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21 States Reject $18 Billion Settlement with Opioid Wholesalers: Report

Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin sit at a local pharmacy in Provo, Utah, April 25, 2017. (George Frey/Reuters)

Twenty-one states have rejected an $18 billion settlement with opioid manufacturers after attempts to negotiate a deal apparently failed, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Attorneys general for the 21 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, signed a letter reviewed by the Journal that was sent this week to legal representatives of McKessen, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health. States are aiming to receive between $22 and $32 billion as part of the settlement.

“Each of you has expressed that your clients seek a settlement that is global,” the letter from the state attorneys general reads. “It is our collective view that the most recently communicated offer is unlikely to achieve that goal. We invite you to discuss our specific issues more fully so that a global settlement may be reached.”

The states have been involved in complex litigation to determine the responsibility of drug manufacturers for the U.S. opioid crisis. The tentative $18 billion settlement was reached in October.

AmerisourceBergen said in comment that it was “disappointed to hear that some states do not currently understand the merits of the global settlement framework that the distributors have been discussing with the attorneys’ general over the past many months.” McKessen said it is “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.”

Around 400,000 Americans are estimated to have died in the opioid crisis. Almost every state is suing major opioid manufacturers on the assumption they did not adequately warn medical personnel or consumers regarding the highly addictive nature of opioids.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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