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LA City Attorney Mike Feuer Reaches Tentative $26 Billion Settlement With Opioid Maker, Distributors

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — City Attorney Mike Feuer says he is nearing a multi-billion settlement with opioid makers that could bring tens of millions of dollars to the City of Los Angeles.

The tentative $26 billion settlement with distributors McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., AmerisourceBergen Corporation and manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals – a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson -- is the result of a civil lawsuit filed in May of 2018, alleging fraudulent and negligent business practices that fueled the local and nationwide opioid crisis.

Orange County parents who lost their sons over a decade ago to opioid overdoses blame the three largest drug distribution companies and Johnson & Johnson.

"I can tell you that people like myself, people like friends of ours who've lost their children, people that I know through the addiction recovery program that my wife and I run, we are all going to be watching," said James Kennedy, a father.

Feuer's lawsuit alleged the McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen failed in their obligation to report suspiciously large and frequent orders in prescription opioid pain pills, as required by state and federal law. In the same lawsuit, Janssen Pharmaceuticals was accused of using false and deceptive business practices to normalize aggressively prescribing opioid drugs, allowing prescriptions for mild pain, and misleading doctors and patients intentionally about the appropriate use, risks, safety and efficacy of such drugs, while downplaying the high risk of addiction and exaggerating the benefits of continued use.

"My goal is that the tens of millions of dollars we expect from this settlement for our city will target the intersection between substance abuse disorder and homelessness," Feuer said in a statement. "We sued because no corporation, no matter how powerful, should be allowed to get away with putting profits over people's lives."

McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen will pay about $21 billion toward the settlement, and the final $5 billion will come from Johnson & Johnson, to be paid out over 18 years. Both the distributors and manufacturer will also be required to make an effort to create more oversight and conduct less promotion of opioids for a period of 10 years.

"They need to be held accountable," said Jodi Barber, a mother.

Between 1999 and 2019, nearly 247,000 people in the U.S. have died from overdoses of prescription opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimates the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse across the nation to be $78.5 billion a year.

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