The $26 billion settlement with Cardinal Health, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen as well as Johnson & Johnson, comes following investigations by state attorneys into whether the three companies failed to refuse to ship opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders.
It also focused on whether drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson had misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid drugs, which are primarily used for pain relief.
The money is largely intended to fund opioid treatment and prevention and bring "much-needed relief to families throughout California whose lives have been upended by the opioid crisis," Bonta said.
Negotiations on the settlement were led by Bonta and the attorneys general of North Carolina, Tennessee, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Once finalized, the settlement will put an end to the nearly 4,000 lawsuits that have been filed in both federal and state courts seeking to hold the distributors and drugmakers to account for their alleged roles fueling the opioid epidemic.
The companies have until Feb. 25 to decide whether to proceed with the deal and if they decide to move forward, the first payment will be made by the three distributors in April while Johnson & Johnson will make the first payment in July.
"We are one step closer to bringing much-needed relief and resources to communities in California and throughout the country," said Bonta in announcing the news. "Whether a family member, neighbor, or friend—far too many of us know someone whose life has been upended or tragically cut short because of opioid addiction."
"This settlement will not only hold Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen accountable for their role in fueling the devastating opioid crisis, it is expected to bring billions of dollars to California to help those suffering with substance use disorders access the help they need to recover," Bonta said.
Under the settlement, the three distributors will collectively pay up to $21 billion over 18 years while Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years, of which up to $3.7 billion must be paid within the first three years.
The exact amount the companies will ultimately pay will be determined by state and local government participation.
The Epoch Times had contacted Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Johnson & Johnson for comment.