$26B opioid settlement reached 

Three of the largest pharmaceutical distributors and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson today agreed to a $26 billion settlement with several states, including Louisiana, that will resolve thousands of lawsuits over their roles in the opioid epidemic. 

McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc., along with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, have been negotiating the deal for more than two years, and earlier this week an agreement was reported to be near. 

Today’s announcement from the attorneys general of Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and Connecticut signifies an important milestone that could clear the way for money to be received by states as soon as early next year, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

The broad terms of the settlement call for the three distributors to pay up to $21 billion collectively over a period of 18 years, and for Johnson & Johnson to contribute $5 billion over nine years. Completing the complex deal took thousands of hours of negotiations between private plaintiffs’ lawyers representing communities, state attorneys general, and lawyers for the four companies. Frequent in-person meetings gave way to nightly Zoom calls held for months during the pandemic. 

While East Baton Rouge Parish’s lawsuit is part of the many being settled, there are still details to be worked out before the city receives funds, Burton LeBlanc, an attorney with Dallas-based Baron & Budd hired to represent Baton Rouge in its lawsuit, told Daily Report  on Tuesday.

Read the full story about the deal from The Wall Street Journal.