Johnson & Johnson has finalized a $26 billion settlement with three of the largest drug distributors in the country to resolve thousands of lawsuits over their roles in the opioid epidemic.
The settlement seeks to resolve around 3,000 cases filed by state and local governments, blaming the companies for flooding communities with opioid pain medications while ignoring warning signs that the drugs were being abused and illegally trafficked.
Under the terms of the agreement, McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp, and Cardinal Health Inc will pay up $21 billion over the next 18 years, while Johnson & Johnson will contribute $5 billion over nine years. An additional $2.3 billion will be set aside to cover legal fees.
The money will be used to fund treatment programs and other initiatives to address the opioid epidemic.
“Billions of dollars are now going to flow to treatment, recovery, education, and abating this public health crisis,” said Paul Geller, a lawyer for local governments at Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, according to Reuters.
Several states have refused to accept the agreement, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Washington, and West Virginia. Officials in New Hampshire have not come to an agreement with Johnson & Johnson to settle their lawsuit. Those states can sign onto the settlement at a later date or continue to pursue their claims in court.