New York Attorney General Letitia James marked a key milestone in her efforts to bring billions of dollars in much-needed resources to communities across the country through the $26 billion opioid agreement 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. Since the agreement in July, which included 52 states and territories, thousands of local governments across the country have joined during the subdivision sign-on period. New York has secured full subdivision participation, ensuring that New York will receive the maximum amount of $230 million available under the settlement agreement.
“Every region across New York has been impacted by the opioid crisis and every community has been devastated in its wake,” said Attorney General James. “We went after these manufacturers and distributors because they must pay for their roles in this crisis and for the lives they have forever harmed. While no amount of money will ever bring back the New Yorkers we’ve tragically lost to opioids, with full participation from all of New York’s political subdivisions, we are doing all we can to get the most money possible for our state to put into treatment and prevention efforts.”
Alongside Attorney General James, the attorneys general of North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas led the negotiations of this multistate agreement and signed the above joint statement.
This is the latest step in Attorney General James’ efforts to fight the opioid epidemic. In March 2019, Attorney General James filed the nation’s most extensive lawsuit to hold accountable the various manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid epidemic. The manufacturers named in the complaint included Purdue Pharma and its affiliates, as well as members of the Sackler Family (owners of Purdue) and trusts they control; Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its affiliates (including its parent company Johnson & Johnson); Mallinckrodt LLC and its affiliates; Endo Health Solutions and its affiliates; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and its affiliates; and Allergan Finance, LLC and its affiliates. The distributors named in the complaint were McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation, and Rochester Drug Cooperative Inc.
In December last year, an agreement with Allergan was reached that will deliver up to $200 million to New York state and Nassau and Suffolk counties for opioid abatement, as well as make enforceable a bar that stops Allergan and all of its subsidiaries, predecessors, and successors from selling opioids in New York and acknowledges Allergan’s prior exit from the opioid business.
Also, in September last year, the bankruptcy court in Purdue confirmed a $4.5 billion plan — at least $200 million of which will be earmarked for New York — from the Sackler family and foundations that they control, will end the Sacklers’ ability to manufacture opioids ever again, and will shut down Purdue Pharma. The court’s ruling against Purdue and the Sacklers has since been challenged by dissenting states and is currently in mediation.
The deals with Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen have a global value of approximately $26 billion.
The cases against Mallinckrodt and Rochester Drug Cooperative are now moving separately through U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Pursuant to the new law establishing the opioid settlement fund, all funds collected by the state from opioid settlements or litigation victories will be allocated specifically for abatement efforts in communities devastated by the opioid epidemic and will not go towards the state’s general fund.
Separately, but related to her work on opioids, last February, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of nearly every attorney general in the nation in delivering more than $573 million — more than $32 million of which was earmarked for New York state — toward opioid treatment and abatement in an agreement and consent judgment with McKinsey & Company.
Lastly, just last month, a jury found Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and its affiliates liable for violating New Yorkers’ rights and responsible for the public nuisance charges made by New York state in its opioid trial in Suffolk County State Supreme Court. A subsequent trial will now be held to determine how much Teva and others will be required to pay, which will be added to the up to $1.5 billion Attorney General James has already secured for the state of New York from different opioid manufacturers and distributors.