Any resolution to the consolidated litigation in Cleveland is yet to be seen.
Lead attorneys in the consolidated opioid litigation in Cleveland, Ohio, previously announced the framework for a deal valued at approximately $48 billion in cash. However, several state attorneys general and attorneys for local governments are openly criticizing it.
Patrick Morrisey, the attorney general in West Virginia said the “$22 billion in cash being offered by distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, plus drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, is way too low” and the “money would not be allocated fairly under the plan as it stood because states’ shares would be based too much on population and not enough on the impact of the crisis.” He added, “When addressing a national public health crisis, a global settlement shouldn’t be about a pure money grab for the states. Monies should be targeted to those who need it most and spent on abatement.”
Morrsey’s statement is indicative of inevitable push back from some of the state’s AGs, which will not accept the offer. What’s more, lead lawyers for more than 2,500 local governments involved in the consolidated lawsuit said an additional $1.2 billion in cash over 18 years is not enough, submitting a statement, “Concerns remain that the total value being proposed is not adequate nor does it provide any degree of assurance that resources will reach communities.”
More than twenty state attorneys general have signed a letter rejecting the consolidated deal proposed by three of the country’s biggest opioid wholesalers. In the letter, sent to attorneys for McKesson, Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp., they said the distributors’ “settlement offer is unacceptable as currently structured.”
James Boffetti, the associate attorney general for New Hampshire, previously said he “was troubled that payments were stretched over many years,” adding, “The concern is, I think, the states need money now to create the infrastructure for treatment.”
“McKesson is focused on finalizing a global settlement structure that would serve as the best path forward to provide billions of dollars in immediate funding and relief to states and local communities,” David Matthews, a spokesperson for the company, responded. The company had previously indicated, it “was trying to finalize a settlement that would serve as the best path forward to provide billions of dollars in immediate funding and relief to states and local communities.”
“We continue to work toward a nationwide settlement that would bring substantial and immediate relief to communities impacted by the opioid epidemic,” said Erica Lewis, spokesperson for Cardinal Health.
“We were disappointed to hear that some states do not currently understand the merits of the global settlement framework that the distributors have been discussing with the attorneys’ general over the past many months,” Gabe Weissman, a spokesperson for AmerisourceBergen, said. “We remain committed to a fair negotiated resolution, but we are continuing to defend ourselves in litigation and actively prepare for upcoming trials.”
This month, Mallinckrodt plc also announced the company and its specialty generics-focused subsidiaries have reached an agreement on the terms of a global settlement that would resolve all opioid-related claims against it. Under the tentative proposal, plaintiffs would receive $1.6 billion.