The Justice Wire
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The Justice Wire

Philly, Allegheny County DAs Keep Up Fight to Hold Big Pharma Accountable for Opioid Crisis

Jane Roh, 215–686–8711,

PHILADELPHIA (August 2, 2021) Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr., has joined Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner in suing Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro to ensure ongoing litigation against multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical giants are not squashed by a settlement deal backed by those companies and state AGs.

The settlement proposal does not require the Big 3 pharmaceutical companies — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson — to concede responsibility for an addiction crisis that has claimed half a million lives in the United States. The deal also gives the multibillion-dollar giants 18 years to pay out $21 billion divided among numerous states. In an announcement hailing the settlement, the companies said the agreement “would result in the settlement of a substantial majority of opioid lawsuits filed by state and local governmental entities,” including, presumably, lawsuits filed by district attorneys in Pennsylvania’s largest and hardest-hit counties.

“The victims of this opioid crisis and the people of Allegheny County would best be served by having these matters decided by a jury in Allegheny County. Accepting a contingent settlement of possibly a few million dollars isn’t acceptable. It doesn’t begin to come close to addressing the hundreds of millions of dollars of damage that has been done and thousands of Allegheny County Residents’ lives that have been destroyed,” Allegheny DA Zappala said. “We have the jurisdiction, the authority, and the responsibility to the citizens of Allegheny County to pursue this case and get a just settlement that does the most good for the most people of this County.”

DA Zappala and DA Krasner have filed complaints against the state Attorney General in Commonwealth Court. In Philadelphia, the largest and most populous county in Pennsylvania, the Big 3-AG settlement would provide at most less than $10 million a year for 18 years — a pittance compared with the costs incurred by residents and local government in responding comprehensively to the crisis. In Allegheny, the second most populous county in Pennsylvania, the settlement will leave “the County with virtually nothing it can count on to abate the ongoing epidemic,” according to DA Zappala’s complaint.

DA Zappala and DA Krasner are among at least 10 chief county prosecutors in Pennsylvania seeking to hold the Big 3 and other drug manufacturers accountable for their roles in the addiction and overdose crisis, which has torn through rural, suburban, and urban communities across the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania continues to see some of the highest overdose death rates in the country.

“Due to the malfeasance of these major corporations and of the corrupt and ineffective for-profit addiction industrial complex, states like Pennsylvania have made barely any progress against a public health and safety crisis that has ended countless lives and futures, destroyed households, and ravage communities,” DA Krasner said. “Any deal that pleases corporate boards and shareholders along with a handful of politicians is reason enough for skepticism. Take McKesson: their shareholders have taken in nearly $10 billion in buybacks and dividends over the past five years. Of course the Big 3 are on board with this settlement; it’s a sellout of the communities they’ve regularly exploited for enormous profits. Pennsylvanians are wise enough to know when they’re being snowed, and I’m confident juries in counties including Philly and Allegheny will do a far better job of holding the Big 3 accountable than your average, higher office-seeking politician.”


The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million residents of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually.




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