48 Billion Dollar Settlement Reached in Opioid Epidemic

Alex Lloyd Gross-Photo- Delaware Valley News.com File Photo Josh Shapiro

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that he and Attorneys General Josh Stein (NC), Herbert Slatery (TN), and Ken Paxton (TX) secured a $48 billion agreement in principle with Cardinal Health, McKesson, Amerisource Bergen, Johnson & Johnson, and Teva for their roles in fueling the opioid epidemic. The framework agreed upon includes $22.25 billion in cash and $26 billion in medication-assisted treatment drug provision and distribution over 10 years.


“The opioid, heroin and fentanyl epidemic claims the lives of 12 Pennsylvanians per day, and this public health and public safety crisis was engineered by opioid manufacturers and distributors,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Today’s agreement holds three of those distributors and two manufacturers accountable for their roles in perpetuating this epidemic. I’m proud of the hard work of my Attorney General colleagues and grateful to these companies for coming to the table to agree to a deal that provides significant funds to cities, counties, and states to expand treatment for those who are suffering from substance use disorder and mandates concrete changes to prevent further harm.”


In addition to $22.25 billion in cash and $26 billion in generic suboxone product, product distribution, and data-tracking measures, the three major distributors have also agreed to change their policies to prevent over-distribution in the future.


Specifically, McKesson, Cardinal and Amerisource Bergen have agreed to take aggressive internal action, including conducting data aggregation and review to prevent over distribution, conducting due diligence on pharmacies to prevent pill mills, and training delivery drivers to identify and report potential pill mills. McKesson, Cardinal, and AmerisourceBergen have also agreed to work to develop an independent clearinghouse to aggregate data and identify where drugs are being sent and at what rate. Johnson & Johnson and Teva, two manufacturers of opioids, have agreed to abstain from marketing any opioid products.


The agreement announced today is an agreement in principle. Each state and its local governments will receive a share of the $22.25 billion in cash to take action to abate the crisis, including providing addiction treatment, community paramedic services, and telehealth treatment, among other activities. The formula for distributing this cash is being finalized.


This agreement is the result of an investigation, led by Attorney General Shapiro with 40 other Attorneys General into six manufacturers and three distributors for their roles in the opioid epidemic.


Paid advertisement

The investigation into the three distributors sought information related to whether or not the companies fulfilled their legal duty to raise red flags about pharmacies’ suspicious drug orders. The investigation into the manufacturers centered on the possibility that patients and doctors were misled about the addictive nature of opioid drugs.


“Our work here is not done—we have to bring other states, counties, and cities on board with this framework,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “But what I know for sure is that the people of Pennsylvania need relief now. They can’t wait for post-trial settlements that could take years to deliver the resources necessary to combat this crisis. I am confident that the framework agreed upon today is our best path forward to deliver relief to those suffering from this epidemic and enact corporate change to prevent this from happening again.”