Three drug distributors in talks for $18 billion opioid settlement: report

Three drug distributors in talks for $18 billion opioid settlement: report

Three of the largest drug distributors in the U.S. are in the process of finalizing a settlement that would have them collectively pay $18 billion over 18 years for their role in the opioid epidemic, The Wall Street Journal reported.

McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health are three of the entities targeted in more than 2,000 lawsuits filed by cities, counties and states that allege the pharmaceutical industry's marketing practices helped fuel an epidemic that has claimed 400,000 lives and left communities grappling with the costs of addiction.

The goal of the lawsuits is to reclaim the cost of the damage that opioids have done to countless communities. 

Pressure is mounting for McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health, as all three are set to begin trial in a Cleveland federal court on Monday, according to the Journal.

By the end of it, the deal could include other drug companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, as well as the donation of opioid addiction treatment medicine.

Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy in September in the hope of reaching a settlement between $10 and $12 billion.

For the plan to be finalized, however, support must be gathered from lawyers of the plaintiffs and various government entities.

McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health all either declined or failed to respond to the Journal for comment.