Over the next two weeks, large corporations accused of "turbocharging" the opioid epidemic could finalize payouts to victims and governments worth roughly $32 billion, NPR reports. "We've lost more than a million Americans to this epidemic, and sadly, it's at an all-time high as overdose deaths continue to rise," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, announcing his state is now in line to receive roughly $1.1 billion. Paxton said pharmaceutical companies that made, distributed and sold opioids were "at the root of the problem." Their payments will help fund "treatment for those currently still struggling with opioid addiction," he added. Major drug distributors and wholesalers AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, along with health products giant Johnson & Johnson, say they did nothing wrong, but have tentatively agreed to payouts totaling $26 billion. The Texas money would come from that deal, as would $590 million for Native American tribes.
A final settlement involving most of the 50 states, local governments and victims could be announced as early as Friday. The other intense negotiation involves Purdue Pharma, maker of Oxycontin, and its owners, members of the Sackler family. In a report last week, Judge Shelley Chapman, who is mediating the talks, described accelerating shuttle diplomacy among dozens of parties. She concluded there was "substantial progress" toward a deal now worth as much as $6 billion. Even if these deals are struck, lawsuits will continue against some of the largest companies that sold opioid pain medications. The major pharmacy chains, including CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, also deny any wrongdoing and have so far refused to negotiate similar settlements.