McKesson, Cardinal, AmerisourceBergen offer legal fee settlement in opioid lawsuits

McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen offered to pay more than $1 billion in legal fees to the states, cities and counties suing them over their alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis, people familiar with the case told Bloomberg.

The distributors said the offer would free up money to use for treatment and other social services with strained finances due to the opioid crisis. 

They are hoping the offer will help gain support for their settlement offer of $18 billion over 18 years, Bloomberg reported. The offer was recently rejected by 21 states. 

The distributors may also be trying to avoid a trial set to start next month in a state court in New York, according to Bloomberg

All of the distributors are accused of funneling inappropriately large sums of opioids into states. 

AmerisourceBergen did not respond to Bloomberg's request for comment, but a Cardinal Health spokesperson told Bloomberg: "We continue to work toward a nationwide settlement that would bring substantial and immediate relief to communities impacted by the opioid epidemic."

A Cardinal spokesperson told Becker's Hospital Review the company doesn't have any additional comments. 

"McKesson is focused on finalizing a global settlement structure that would serve as the best path forward to provide billions of dollars in immediate funding and relief to states and local communities. We continue to be deeply concerned by the impact that the opioid epidemic is having on families and communities across our nation. We are committed to being part of the solution, but are also prepared to defend ourselves vigorously if the litigation progresses," a McKesson spokesperson told Becker's.

Becker's has also reached out to AmerisourceBergen and will update this story accordingly. 

Separately, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter dismissed a lawsuit against the three distributors, but said he plans to sue them individually later in state court, The Oklahoman reported

Mr. Hunter had sued them in Cleveland County District Court, but the companies moved the case to a federal court three weeks ago, which he said is an attempt to get the case combined with thousands of other opioid cases so it could be "buried." 

"We want to hold these three companies accountable to Oklahomans in an Oklahoma courtroom," Mr. Hunter told The Oklahoman

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