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OAKLAND, January 26, 2022 – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today marked an important milestone in the work to bring desperately needed relief to people across California and the nation who are struggling with opioid addiction. The Attorney General announced that over 90% of eligible California cities and counties have signed on to a historic $26 billion settlement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – and Johnson & Johnson over the companies’ role in creating and fueling the nationwide opioid crisis. This overwhelming support from local governments will help ensure California moves closer to receiving its full share of the settlement.
“We are one step closer to bringing much-needed relief and resources to communities in California and throughout the country,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Whether a family member, neighbor, or friend – far too many of us know someone whose life has been upended or tragically cut short because of opioid addiction. This settlement will not only hold Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen accountable for their role in fueling the devastating opioid crisis, it is expected to bring billions of dollars to California to help those suffering with substance use disorders access the help they need to recover.”
Attorney General Bonta, along with the attorneys general of North Carolina, Tennessee, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, led negotiations of the up to $26 billion settlement.
In California, over 400 cities and counties – representing 97% of the state’s population – have signed on to the settlement.
When finalized, the settlement will resolve the claims of both states and local governments across the country, including the nearly 4,000 that have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts. The settlement also requires significant industry changes that will help prevent this type of crisis from ever happening again.
The settlement comes as a result of investigations by state attorneys general into whether the three distributors fulfilled their legal duty to refuse to ship opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders and whether Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid drugs.
Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Johnson & Johnson will have until February 25, 2022, to decide whether to move forward with the settlement. If all parties move forward, the first payments will be made by the distributors in April, and Johnson & Johnson in July.
In addition to the settlement, Attorney General Bonta continues to fight to hold Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family accountable for their contribution to the ongoing opioid crisis. In December, a district court reversed a New York bankruptcy court’s confirmation of the company’s bankruptcy reorganization plan.
Today’s deal also comes on the heels of a previously announced $573 million opioid settlement with McKinsey & Company, which will bring over $59 million to California for opioid abatement.