State attorneys general are finding a national settlement over the toll of opioids elusive, as some lawyers for state and local governments are renewing public criticism of the proposed deal with the nation’s largest drug distributors, the Associated Press reports. A group of top state lawyers in October announced the framework for a deal they said would be worth about $48 billion in cash, treatment drugs and services over time. Some state attorneys general and lawyers for local governments criticized it. A push continues to reach a deal, with a trial over opioids scheduled to start next month in New York. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said the $22 billion in cash being offered by distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson plus drugmaker Johnson & Johnson “is way too low.”
Morrisey said the money would not be allocated fairly under the plan as it stood because states’ shares would be based too much on population and not enough on the impact of the crisis. “When addressing a national public health crisis, a global settlement shouldn’t be about a pure money grab for the states,” he said. “Monies should be targeted to those who need it most and spent on abatement.” Lead lawyers for more than 2,500 local governments suing the drug industry said the companies have offered an additional $1.2 billion in cash over 18 years. The lawyers said that’s not enough. Attorneys general from North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas who championed the settlement in October said it was better to have a national deal than see money go out piecemeal — while it lasts — through trial judgments. Prescription and illicit painkillers have been linked to more than 430,000 deaths in the U.S. in the past two decades.