A separate deal between the company and the Indian tribes is still being negotiated.
Wednesday’s settlement leaves thousands more lawsuits pending against many other pharmaceutical defendants, including manufacturers, drugstore chains and smaller distributors. Most of these companies are working to negotiate their own deals that could potentially bring even more money to states, cities, counties, and tribes. Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and its owners, members of the Sackler billionaire family, are negotiating a $ 4.5 billion settlement with plaintiffs as part of a bankruptcy restructuring.
Attorney General Josh Stein of North Carolina, whose state could receive up to $ 750 million from the deal with distributors and Johnson & Johnson, said the amount of money so far from the opioid litigation could be raised if the deal is considered as of Wednesday combined with other potential comparisons underway, totaled nearly $ 33 billion.
Under Wednesday’s agreement, the country’s three distributors would make payments totaling $ 21 billion over 18 years. Johnson & Johnson would pay $ 5 billion over nine years. A key feature of the agreement is that the distributors set up an independent clearinghouse to track and report each other’s shipments, a new and unusual mechanism designed to make data transparent and send out alerts immediately when large orders are placed.
In return, the states and cities would drop thousands of lawsuits against the companies and pledge not to bring any more lawsuits in the future.
But before the checks are actually cut, enormous obstacles remain.
The agreement will now be submitted to the federal states and all their municipalities for formal approval. The states and District of Columbia have 30 days to review the offers and structure, including the amount of money they would ultimately receive.
The attorneys general on Wednesday did not offer a firm list of states on board, saying many states have not yet had a chance to look into the deal.
A large majority of states are required to sign for the deal to proceed, although the companies have not provided an exact number. If this threshold is not reached, companies could go away and litigation will resume.