Philadelphia pushes back against national opioid settlement: 'This is a sellout'

Philadelphia pushes back against national opioid settlement: 'This is a sellout'
© (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Philadelphia is pushing back against the $26 billion national opioid settlement with three major drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D) filed a lawsuit in a Pennsylvania state court on Thursday asking a court to declare that Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) lacks the authority to bind the city to the settlement.

Krasner called the settlement a “sellout” in a news conference.

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“We are not going to accept a settlement that is a sellout,” Krasner said. “And from what I see, this is a sellout. The money is too low, the payments are too slow, and the money may never show.”

If approved, the drug distributors — Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen — would pay $21 billion over 18 years, and not admit any wrongdoing.

Johnson & Johnson would pay up to $5 billion over nine years, with up to $3.7 billion paid over the first three years. The company, which once marketed opioids, agreed to exit the opioid business.

States have 30 days to sign onto the deal.

Shapiro’s office said Wednesday that Pennsylvania would get $1 billion from the settlement.

But Krasner’s office said in a statement that the settlement would likely provide the city between $5 million to $8 million per year over 18 years. He further said there was no guarantee that the city would receive the payments, if at all.

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Krasner’s office has been in litigation with opioid makers since 2018.

Molly Stieber, a spokesperson for Shapiro, told The Hill in a statement “we’re puzzled that the Philadelphia District Attorney would take less than 24 hours to analyze a complex nationwide framework before suing our office and misrepresenting the facts to Pennsylvanians.”

“The proposed settlement has not even been agreed to — that will take 150 days — but it is the only way to jumpstart a billion dollars’ worth of treatment for communities in need any time soon. The alternative is to make families wait years for an uncertain outcome that could leave them with nothing," Stieber said. "These other lawsuits have no trial date nor a guarantee that any success in those cases would expand treatment — unlike this proposed settlement."