Opioid crisis: a $ 26 billion agreement to settle thousands of disputes in the United States

Posted on Jul 21, 2021 at 9:55 pmUpdated on Jul 21, 2021, 10:26 PM

The New York State prosecutor praised a “historic agreement”. Accused of having fueled the opiate crisis ravaging the United States, the Johnson & Johnson laboratory and three large American drug distributors have agreed to pay $ 26 billion to settle thousands of disputes. The American laboratory has agreed to pay 5 billion over nine years, and distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, 21 billion over 18 years, with the hope of settling nearly 4,000 lawsuits brought by dozens of American states and local authorities, within the framework of a friendly agreement proposal.

If it is confirmed, the agreement will be the most important of the epic legal battle engaged by the States and communities to make pay the companies accused of having produced and promoted opiate drugs, or turned a blind eye to their overconsumption.

Financing of treatments

The implementation of the agreement – which should allow states and communities to finance the treatments made necessary by this scourge – will depend on the number of American states that accept it. On Wednesday, in addition to New York State, six other states said they had accepted it: North Carolina, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

Other laboratories have been sued, which are not associated with the agreement announced Wednesday, including Teva, Allergan, or Purdue, whose drug OxyContin is seen as one of the first responsible for this crisis. The large American drugstore chains are not affected either. The agreement should therefore not put an end to the disputes concerning them.

500,000 dead in 20 years

The opioid crisis, triggered by the incisive promotion and over-prescription of highly addictive painkillers such as oxycodone in the 1990s, has killed more than 500,000 overdose in the United States over the past 20 years.

It has generated a large market for illicit and very potent opiate substances, such as fentanyl, which have skyrocketed the number of overdoses. After starting to improve just before the pandemic, the number of fatal overdoses started to rise again in 2020: more than 93,000 people died, most of them from opioid-related overdoses.

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