By Susannah Luthi
Preliminary CDC data shows that drug overdose deaths hit a record high in 2019 — with nearly 72,000 fatalities — and the toll continues to climb this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Opioids, which account for most drug deaths, were involved in two out of every three drug overdose fatalities in 2018, according to the CDC.
The Trump administration’s announcement comes as a separate sprawling, complicated mass litigation effort to hold drug companies accountable for the opioid crisis drags on. That legal battle involves thousands of U.S. counties, cities and towns that have sued drugmakers, pharmacies and drug distributors. A coalition of state attorneys general is pressing for a proposed $ 48 billion global settlement as quickly as possible, while other attorneys general and lawyers for the municipalities want to hold out for more.
Purdue filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year to freeze all the legal actions while figuring out a separate settlement with them.
The drug firm Mallinckrodt earlier this month filed for bankruptcy protection and set aside $ 1.6 billion to resolve all its pending opioid-related legal claims.
Brianna Ehley contributed to this report.