(Reuters) – Three drug distributors are in talks with state and local governments to settle opioid litigation for $18 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the discussions.
McKesson Corp, AmerisourceBergen Corp and Cardinal Health would collectively pay the amount over 18 years under the deal currently on the table, according to the Journal.
Around 2,600 lawsuits by state and local governments are pending nationally, accusing drug manufacturers of deceptively marketing opioids in ways that downplayed their risks, and drug distributors of failing to detect and halt suspicious orders.
The three companies, which together control about 85% of the U.S. prescription drug market, are among the six that are slated to be defendants in a landmark trial set to begin in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, on Oct. 21, presided over by a federal judge who has long pushed for a global settlement in the litigation.
Johnson & Johnson is also involved in the discussions to contribute additional money, the WSJ reported. (on.wsj.com/2BgJEw8)
Opioid addiction claimed roughly 400,000 lives in the United States from 1999 to 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Shares of Cardinal Health jumped 7.2% in extended trading, while those of McKesson rose about 6%. AmerisourceBergen shares were up marginally.
A spokeswoman for Cardinal Health declined to comment while the other companies did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Reporting by Shanti S Nair and Nate Raymond; Editing by Anil D’Silva