New York Attorney General Letitia James

New York Attorney General Letitia James

NEW YORK (TNS) — State Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday that her office has reached a $1.1 billion settlement with three of the nation’s largest drug distributors accused of helping to fuel the opioid epidemic.

The agreement with McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation resolves litigation the state has been pursuing against the companies since 2019. James said her office would make a motion Tuesday to remove them from the state’s ongoing opioid trial currently underway in Suffolk County State Supreme Court.

New York and local municipalities that sign off on the agreement should begin to see money from the settlement in just two months, her office said. Funds will be doled out over the course of 17 years and must be spent on addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services.

”While no amount of money will ever compensate for the millions of addictions, the hundreds of thousands of deaths, or the countless communities decimated by opioids, this money will be vital in preventing any future devastation,” James said.

The drug distributors were accused of funneling massive quantities of opioids into communities without sufficient monitoring or oversight, and ignoring signs that they were being diverted to illegal channels. The companies have denied these claims, arguing the blame lies with the drug manufacturers and doctors who prescribed the pills.

To resolve the claims, James said McKesson, Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen have agreed to implement a new process for collecting and analyzing data about opioid orders received by other companies through the creation of a “groundbreaking” clearinghouse that will be overseen by an independent third-party monitor.

The clearinghouse will pool and aggregate data from the distributors — giving them the ability to account for their own shipments as well as the others’ shipments. The data will then be used to establish caps on opioid shipments for specific pharmacies that each company must follow.

The three distributors released a joint statement in response to Tuesday’s settlement announcement, calling it “an important step” toward finalizing a broad agreement with states and other governing bodies. If the broad settlement is reached, New York and participating municipalities would become part of the broader agreement.

”While the companies strongly dispute the allegations at issue in the trial, they believe this resolution will allow the companies to focus their attention and resources on the safe and secure delivery of medications and therapies while delivering meaningful relief to affected communities, and will also support efforts to achieve a broad resolution under the previously disclosed framework,” they said.

In addition to the settlement Tuesday, which according to James is the largest award her office has ever secured, James has also recently negotiated settlement agreements with opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and consultant McKinsey & Company.

The state’s case against the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma, meanwhile, is still moving through U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Earlier this month a majority of states — including New York — approved an agreement that would force the family and the entities they control to pay more than $4.5 billion toward opioid abatement.

, shut down Purdue, and ban them from ever selling opioids again. The agreement is pending court approval.

{p class=”krtText”}The state’s trial against other opioid manufacturers, including Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and Allergan Finance, remains underway.

{p class=”krtText”}Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released provisional data showing that drug overdose deaths had reached an all-time high in the U.S., with more than 93,000 people estimated to have died last year. Additionally, more than half of all states saw overdose deaths increase by more than 30 percent.

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{p class=”krtText”}© 2021 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) Visit the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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