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What’s new with the opioid litigation?

May 23, 2022

After working their way through the legal system for years, many of the lawsuits filed against companies involved in the manufacturing, distribution and dispensing of opioid pharmaceuticals have either reached a resolution or are expected to soon.

In particular, settlements have been reached between state attorneys general and the three largest opioid distributors and Johnson & Johnson, an opioid manufacturer. These two settlements have been moving in tandem and are identical in many respects. In total, they will pay approximately $26 billion to states and local jurisdictions over 18 years, though more of the money will be paid out in the earlier years. All states have signed onto both of these settlements with the exception of NH (signed onto the distributor settlement but not Johnson & Johnson) and AL, OK, WA and WV (all settled separately). Most, though not all, of the money in these settlements is required to be spent on opioid remediation.

Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, declared bankruptcy as a result of the litigation against the company. The most recent version of the bankruptcy plan would provide $6 billion to states and local communities for opioid remediation. Additionally, the company would be restructured into a public benefit company with a focus on medications for addiction referral and treatment. The plan is currently under appeal.

McKinsey & Company, a consulting firm that provided services to a number of opioid manufacturers, settled with almost all states in early 2021 for close to $600 million.

Lawsuits against pharmacies that dispensed opioids (including Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS) continue to move through the legal system. Although some cases involving these companies have gone to trial, there has not yet been a move yet for a nationwide settlement for these companies.

Much, much more information is available at the opioid settlement tracker.