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Tue Jul 20, 2021, 12:21 PM

States and Cities Near Tentative $26 Billion Deal in Opioids Cases

The three largest pharmaceutical distributors and Johnson & Johnson are on the verge of a $26 billion deal with states and municipalities that would settle thousands of lawsuits over their role in the opioid epidemic and pay for addiction and prevention services nationwide.

An agreement could be announced this week but several people with knowledge of the talks cautioned that the deal could still fall apart or have significant changes.

The intensifying negotiations, which began more than two years ago, arrive as trials bear down on the defendants and addiction and overdose rates continue to mount during the pandemic.

Brokered by a bipartisan group of about 13 state attorneys general and lawyers for local governments, the deal still requires several steps before formal agreement, including voting on it by all parties in the litigation. It includes incentives to induce more plaintiffs to come on board, such as bigger up front payments. Unlike earlier proposals, however, this one appears to have the critical backing of more than 40 states and includes a sweetener of $2 billion in plaintiff attorneys’ fees.


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