Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan announces settlement of opioid lawsuit local news

MONTPELIER – Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan was among attorneys general who on Wednesday announced a $ 26 billion “planned tentative settlement” with the country’s three largest drug distribution companies and the maker of Johnson & Johnson drugs for their role in the opioid epidemic.

“Vermont will likely receive around $ 60 million, and it is imperative that some of that money be directed to local communities to alleviate the opioid crisis,” Donovan said of the proposed settlement in a press release Wednesday. afternoon.

The terms of settlement also require “significant changes in the industry that will help prevent this type of crisis in the future,” Donovan’s office said. “The settlement agreement would resolve inquiries and disputes over corporate roles in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic.”

Each state will have 30 days to decide whether it wants to join the settlement, and local governments will have 120 days after that to decide. If state and local governments do not opt, the settlement would decrease in value.

Vermont for follow-up Cardinal Health Inc. and McKesson Corporation in Chittenden Superior Court in 2019, alleging that the companies “have committed unfair and deceptive acts in violation of the Vermont Consumer Protection Act”.

The trial asserted that the defendants’ systems “were totally inadequate to fulfill their legal obligation to monitor and control the sale of opioids”.

Under the proposed settlement, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Corp. would pay a total of $ 21 billion, while Johnson & Johnson would pay $ 5 billion.

Earlier this month, Donovan announced that the state would not be signing a bankruptcy settlement stemming from a class action lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, over its role in the national opioid crisis.

On Wednesday Donovan said he had formally opposed to the Purdue Pharma settlement, on the grounds that “the court does not have the power to release state civil claims against the Sackler family in bankruptcy proceedings as this would violate state sovereignty.”

In this settlement, the Sackler family, who founded and own Purdue Pharma, are using their enormous wealth to protect themselves from liability, Donovan said in a separate announcement.

“The plan allows them to shut down state lawsuits against the Sacklers. At the end of the bankruptcy, the Sacklers will retain billions of dollars in wealth from the opioid crisis, a substantial portion of which they are protecting in offshore accounts, ”Donovan said. “Meanwhile, states will continue to fight to alleviate the crisis caused by the Sacklers. “

In a joint statement Wednesday, Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen said they “strongly dispute” the allegations made in the lawsuits leading to the settlement. However, they believe that “the proposed settlement agreement and the settlement process it establishes (…)

“There is still progress towards finalizing this agreement and we remain committed to providing certainty to parties involved and essential assistance to families and communities in need,” the company said. “The settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing, and the Company will continue to defend itself against any disputes that the final agreement does not resolve.”

“There is still progress towards finalizing this deal and we remain committed to providing certainty to parties involved and essential assistance to families and communities in need,” Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday. “The settlement is not an admission of liability or wrongdoing, and the Company will continue to defend itself against any disputes that the final agreement does not resolve.”

State and local governments say distribution companies did not have proper controls to report or stop shipments to pharmacies that received disproportionate shares of potent and addicting prescription painkillers. The companies have maintained that they are filling legal drug orders placed by doctors – so they should not be blamed for the drug abuse and overdose crisis in the country.

An Associated Press analysis of federal distribution data found that enough prescription opioids were shipped in 2012 for every person in the United States to have a 20-day supply.

And opioids – including prescription drugs and illegal drugs like illicitly produced heroin and fentanyl – have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the United States since 2000. The number of cases has reached an all-time high in 2020.

Vermont recorded 157 opioid overdose deaths in 2020, a 38% increase from 114 deaths in 2019.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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