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UPDATE 1-U.S. states seek $26.4 bln from drug firms in opioid litigation - WSJ

(Adds response from AmerisourceBergen, analyst comment, shares)

Aug 18 (Reuters) - U.S. states are seeking a combined $26.4 billion from three major drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson to settle opioid litigation against the companies, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

About a dozen attorneys general are seeking a collective $21.14 billion from the distributors, which include McKesson Corp, Amerisourcebergen and Cardinal Health , and $5.28 billion from J&J, the WSJ reported here&page=1&pos=2.

AmerisourceBergen declined to comment on the report, while Cardinal Health, J&J and McKesson did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

“We believe this latest settlement proposal would be viewed as a favorable outcome and would expect the stocks to react positively to the news as a global settlement would put the uncertainty behind,” JP Morgan analyst Lisa Gill said.

The lawsuits accuse drugmakers of overstating the benefits of opioids while downplaying the risks and allege distributors failed to flag and halt a rising tide of suspicious orders.

A closely watched opioid trial pitting New York state against McKesson, Johnson & Johnson and others was postponed in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Shares of McKesson were up slightly in early trade, while others were down marginally. (Reporting by Manas Mishra and Trisha Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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