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21 States Reject $18 Billion Bid to Settle Opioid Litigation

Attorney generals in 21 states rejected an offer from three drug wholesalers for their roles in the opioid crisis in the U.S. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, an $18 billion offer was not enough for a global solution, with some states were looking for a settlement as high as $32 billion.

The three companies involved in the offer were McKesson (NYSE: MCK), AmerisourceBergen (NYSE: ABC), and Cardinal Health (NYSE: CAH). They were reportedly in talks since October and were looking to make the $18 billion payment over a period of 18 years.

The attorneys general sent back a rejection letter that acknowledged the drug companies' desire to "seek a settlement that is global" but claimed that the offer was "unlikely to achieve that goal."

Image source: Getty Images.

Multiple states are going after companies on their own

One of the companies in the discussions but not part of the offer was Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ). Oklahoma went after the healthcare giant last year for its role in the opioid abuse problem in its state. After J&J appealed an initial fine of $572 million, a judge ordered the company to pay $465 million to settle the case.

On Jan. 2, Washington state also announced that it was suing J&J related to opioid abuse as well, looking for both civil penalties and damages. The lawsuit stated that the company was "negligent and a public nuisance."

Despite its legal troubles, J&J was able to beat earnings expectations in its fourth-quarter report, posting adjusted per-share earnings of $1.88. The company released the results on Jan. 22. Over the past 12 months, shares of the healthcare stock have risen 11%, well below the S&P 500's returns of 23%.

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David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson and McKesson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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