Four drug companies agree to pay $26 billion to settle lawsuits in the United States

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New York (AFP)

The New York state attorney general announced Wednesday that the laboratory “Johnson & Johnson” and three major US drug distributors agreed to pay $ 26 billion to settle thousands of complaints accusing it of fueling the opioid drug crisis in the United States.

Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $5 billion over nine years, while distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and Amerisource Bergen agreed to pay $21 billion over 18 years, hoping to settle nearly 4,000 lawsuits. Judicial brought by dozens of states and local authorities.

The prosecutor said the money was part of a “historic” amicable settlement proposal.

Implementation of the agreement, which ensures funding for the treatments required by this scourge, will depend on the number of US states that accept it. On Wednesday, New York and six other states announced their acceptance.

If struck, the deal would be the most important legal battle states and local authorities have fought to fine companies accused of producing and promoting opioid drugs or turning a blind eye to overconsumption.

The opioid crisis caused by the aggressive promotion and overprescription of addictive painkillers such as oxycodone in the 1990s has led to more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the United States over the past 20 years.

The crisis created a large market for illicit opioid drugs such as “fentanyl”, which led to a significant increase in the number of overdoses.

After improving before the emergence of the Covid-19 epidemic, the number of fatal overdoses rose again in 2020, and more than 93,000 people died as a result, most of them from opioid drugs.

Johnson & Johnson announced an amicable agreement with the state of New York alone at the end of June, to pay the state $230 million after it stopped producing and selling opioid drugs.

Lawsuits have been filed against other laboratories not linked to the deal announced Wednesday.

Also, Wednesday’s agreement does not include the largest American drugstore chains, which means that lawsuits against them are still ongoing.

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