HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Monday that he and three other attorneys general secured a $48 billion deal with five companies for their involvement in fueling the opioid epidemic.
Shapiro, Josh Stein (North Carolina), Herbert Slatery (Tennessee), and Ken Paxton (Texas) secured the agreement with Cardinal Health, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Johnson & Johnson, and Teva.
The agreement announced Monday, though only an agreement in principle, includes $22.25 billion in cash and $26 billion in medication-assisted treatment drug provision to be distributed over 10 years.
“The opioid, heroin and fentanyl epidemic claims the lives of 12 Pennsylvanians per day, and this public health and public safety crisis was engineered by opioid manufacturers and distributors,” Shapiro said. “Today’s agreement holds three of those distributors and two manufacturers accountable for their roles in perpetuating this epidemic.”
In addition to $22.25 billion in cash and $26 billion in generic suboxone products, product distribution, and data-tracking measures, three major distributors have also agreed to change their policies to prevent over-distribution in the future.
McKesson, Cardinal, and AmerisourceBergen specifically agreed to take significant internal reform including conducting data collection and review to prevent over-distribution and taking pre-emptive measures on pharmacies to prevent pill mills.
They also agreed to develop an independent organization to collect and identify where drugs are sent and the frequency.
Johnson & Johnson and Teva agreed to refrain from marketing any opioid products.
Every state and its local governments will receive a share of the $22.25 billion to take action to decrease the crisis, including providing addiction treatment, community paramedic services, and telehealth treatment, among other activities.
The formula for distributing this cash is being finalized. The agreement is the result of an investigation that centered on the possibility of patients and doctors misled about the addictive nature of opioid drugs.
“Our work here is not done—we have to bring other states, counties, and cities on board with this framework,” Shapiro said, adding that Pennsylvanians need relief now, however.
He also stated that the settlement offers the best opportunity to provide immediate relief and prevent a similar situation from happening again.
“They can’t wait for post-trial settlements that could take years to deliver the resources necessary to combat this crisis,” Shapiro said.
More information on the agreement can be found here.