Three major drug distributors blamed for flooding communities with highly addictive opioids and contributing to the nation’s opioid epidemic have proposed paying $10 billion to settle claims against them.

Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen made the proposal to a group of 35 state attorneys general, according to sources close to the matter. Acting on behalf of the attorneys general, the National Association of Attorneys General reportedly countered that offer with a $45 billion proposal to cover the overdose deaths, addicted community members, and economic damages they say the drug distributors’ actions caused.

The distributors – along with a number of drug manufacturers and pharmacies – already face an additional 2,000 lawsuits brought by cities and counties across the country seeking to hold them accountable for what plaintiffs allege is their role in fueling the public health crisis and creating an opioid epidemic.

The news sent shares of the drug distributors’ stocks falling – McKesson by 5.9% to $136.10, Cardinal Health by 6.3% to $42.68, and AmerisourceBergen by 5.7% to $83.64.

The drug distributors have profited heartily from opioid sales. McKesson produced $4.07 billion from operations during its 2019 fiscal year; Cardinal Health generated $2.77 billion; and Amerisource brought in $1.41 billion.

It appears their profits came from flooding communities with the highly addictive painkillers. From 2005 to 2006, McKesson shipped more than 5 million doses of opioids to one pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, with a population of just 400. From 2006 to 2014, the company shipped more than 5.8 million doses of opioids to another pharmacy in neighboring Mount Gay, with a population of 1,800.

Most of the lawsuits against the drug distributors, manufacturers and pharmacies have been consolidated under U.S. District Judge Dan Polster. The first trial was slated for Oct. 21, but defendants are pushing for a delay to prepare for, as they say, “one of the most complicated trials in legal history.”

Beasley Allen has an Opioid Litigation Team, which includes these lawyers: Rhon Jones, Parker Miller, Ryan Kral, Rick Stratton, Will Sutton and Jeff Price. This team represents the State of Alabama, the State of Georgia, and numerous local governments, as well as other entities in opioid multdistrict litigation (MDL). They also handle individual claims on behalf of victims.

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