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Cardinal Health to payout billions in massive opioid lawsuit

Kiichiro Sato
Associated Press

Johnson & Johnson and its three largest drug distributors will pay a combined $26 billion to communities affected by the opioid crisis.

Cardinal Health is one of four companies that will pay a combined $26 billion over 18 years to communities that claim they helped fuel the opioid crisis.

Dublin-based Cardinal Health is on the hook for $6 billion. Drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson is the fourth company involved and will contribute $5 billion.

In a joint statement, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson said that enough governments had signed on to finalize a “comprehensive agreement to settle the vast majority of opioid lawsuits."

Each company "continues to dispute the allegations," but view the settlement as a "key milestone" to end these claims and deliver relief to communities affected by the opioid epidemic.

Licking County is one of 73 Ohio countiessuing the companies. Commissioner Tim Bubb said this settlement holds them accountable.

"We feel strongly about it," he said. "It's time that they do the right thing, take some responsibility and put some resources back in our communities and counties to try and make a difference."

Bubb said the county will look for opioid prevention programs in the area once funds are available.

"You could argue that there's been a lot of hurt and a lot of death that came it that it's impossible to clean up," he said. "But we need to start."

The agreement is in effect April 2 with the first annual payments soon to follow.

Tyler Thompson was a reporter and on-air host for 89.7 NPR News. Thompson, originally from northeast Ohio, has spent the last three years working as a Morning Edition host and reporter at NPR member station KDLG Public Radio and reporter at the Bristol Bay Times Newspaper in Dillingham, Alaska.