New York settles with distribution companies in opioid lawsuit

Officials on Long Island said that the money from proposed settlements in lawsuits against drug companies in connection with the opioid crisis won't bring back loved ones but will do a lot of good. 

"These dollars can never replace what has been lost here," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

But the money can go towards treatment, recovery, and prevention efforts according to local officials who announced a $1.1 billion agreement with three major drug distributors on Tuesday.

"No longer can these distributors skirt the law by saying once it leaves their factory it's out of their hands," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen are the latest to settle in one of the nation's largest opioid lawsuits. The distributors are among a lengthy list of pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers accused of fueling the opioid crisis on Long Island and across the state. This local agreement was announced on Tuesday as a $26 billion global settlement is expected to be finalized in the coming days

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From this latest agreement, Nassau and Suffolk Counties will each get up to $115 million and New York more than $1 billion. Last month, Johnson & Johnson settled along with chains including CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, and Walgreens.

It's a step in the right direction for Teri Kroll, who lost her son Timothy to an overdose.

"We can't bring back our loved ones," Kroll said. "We don't have a choice with that but I do have a choice to make a difference and this is going to make a difference."

McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen stop short of admitting wrongdoing. In a joint statement, they dispute the allegations and believe the resolution will allow the companies to focus their attention and resources on the safe and secure delivery of medications and therapies. 

"The key now is making sure that we're able to get those dollars into the community," Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, the CEO of Family and Children's Association, said. 

Overdoses are at an all-time high, according to the CDC. On Long Island, they're up by 35% year-over-year. 

Plaintiff witness testimony is taking place this week, which is week four of the trial. There are four defendants left.

"Today, we’re holding them accountable delivering more than $1 billion more into New York communities ravaged by opioids for treatment, recovery, and prevention efforts," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Tuesday.