© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Opioid-based hydrocodone tablets at a drugstore in Portsmouth, Ohio, June 21, 2017. REUTERS / Bryan Woolston
By Nate Raymond
(Reuters) – The state of Georgia has decided to join a proposed $ 26 billion national settlement resolving lawsuits alleging that three major drug distributors and drug maker Johnson & Johnson (NYSE 🙂 have fueled the deadly opioid epidemic in the United States.
Friday’s announcement by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr marked the latest example of a recalcitrant state opting for landmark deals with J&J, McKesson Corp (NYSE :), AmerisourceBergen (NYSE 🙂 Corp and Cardinal Health Inc (NYSE :).
“We are confident that joining the settlement at this time will prove beneficial to our state, our citizens and our communities, as we continue our fight to end this epidemic and address the widespread damage it has caused,” said Carr said.
AmerisourceBergen said he was “pleased to see increased commitment to participate in the global settlement process.” J&J referred to an earlier statement saying the agreement supports state and local efforts to tackle the outbreak.
More than 3,300 lawsuits, many of them by state and local governments, are underway to hold these companies and others accountable for an opioid abuse crisis that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths by overdose in two decades.
Under a proposal unveiled in July, distributors agreed to pay up to $ 21 billion and J&J agreed to pay up to $ 5 billion.
The degree of involvement of state and local governments will determine how much businesses will ultimately have to pay and the number of pending litigation they will face.
Supporters of the colony recently extended to Jan. 26 a deadline for cities and counties in states that have supported the proposal to join the settlements, citing the potential for more states to join. .
Nevada joined the distribution agreement on Tuesday and settled with J&J. New Mexico supported the distributors’ deal in December.
Five states remain in the hands of the distributors, including the state of Washington, which brought them to justice. Six states have not agreed to settle with J&J.
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