Drug Distributors and Johnson & Johnson Reach $26 Billion Deal to End Opioid Suits
More than $ 2 billion of the $ 26 billion deal would not go to states and communities at all. It would be used to pay the fees and expenses of private attorneys representing thousands of counties and municipalities, as well as some states, in the opioid litigation. While many states are represented by their own staff lawyers, others have had to rely on outside lawyers to mount such costly and consuming litigation, as most cities and counties have.
As states decide whether or not to sign, lawsuits against the companies will continue, including one in California state court against Johnson & Johnson and a local lawsuit in West Virginia in federal court against the distributors. At least half a dozen more trials are expected to begin in the fall and early winter.
The complainants’ executive committee, which negotiated on behalf of local governments, said while Wednesday’s announcement was a milestone, “reaching a deal is just a step.”
Joe Rice, a chief negotiator for the committee, noted that some states should pass laws setting out how the opioid settlement money will be used and preventing future litigation.
But he stressed that from the start of the negotiations, the payments had been intended to be used almost exclusively to combat the opioid epidemic. Mr Rice, who also helped negotiate the Big Tobacco deals over 20 years ago, admitted that much of that money was ultimately diverted to balance state budgets rather than spent on treatment. smoking-related problems.
The new deal, he said, had much stricter safeguards to ensure that funds would go to prevention, treatment, drugs, education and other opioid-related issues.
Most states are likely to develop their own disbursement plans with their local governments. Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona, Texas, Florida and others have already negotiated internal formulas. Last month, the New York legislature passed bills to ensure that all funds from the opioid dispute resolution would go into a “locked box,” to be used only to deal with the crisis.
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