AG Yost Says Opiod Settlements Aren't Enough

Oct 17, 2019

Ohio’s attorney general said his office is disappointed in a reported settlement with five drug makers and distributors in advance of a huge opioid trial – a trial he tried to delay.

Drug manufacturers Teva and Johnson & Johnson and distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Ohio-based Cardinal Health are reportedly offering $22 billion in cash along with $28 billion in drugs and services. AG Dave Yost said it’s not enough.

“If we liquidated the entire pharmaceutical industry, that's not going to be enough to deal with the year after year damages and problems that we're going to face.”

Yost said eliminating the industry in the U.S. wouldn’t be helpful. But he said his staff thinks the offer is too light. Yost led a group of other AGs and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in arguing states had jurisdiction in the lawsuit over local communities, but they were rejected in their attempt to delay the trial.

The trial involves 2600 local communities. AG Dave Yost said he wanted the delay to argue that states have jurisdiction on behalf of all their residents who’ve been hurt by the opioid epidemic. Federal judge Daniel Polster created what he called a negotiation class, allowing for all US cities and counties to be involved in settlements unless they opt out. Yost said he thinks that’s unlawful.

“You're buying a pig in a poke. You've got no idea how to how to weigh your risks, the potential rewards because you've got to make a decision to be in the class before you even know what the outcome of the class is.”

And Yost said he wants what he calls “broad guardrails” to ensure communities only use settlement money on opioid-related expenses.