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The Department of Justice announced it will be filing a Statement of Interest in a multi-district action regarding hundreds of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The plaintiffs include numerous cities, municipalities, and medical institutions that have borne the costs of the prescription opioid crisis. The plaintiffs seek to recover the costs associated with providing treatment and public safety measures relating to the opioid epidemic from those who allegedly used false, deceptive, or unfair marketing practices for prescription opioid drugs.

The Justice Department will primarily argue that the federal government – through various federal health programs and law enforcement efforts – has borne substantial costs from the opioid epidemic and seeks reimbursement.

Named in the litigation are opioid manufacturers Purdue Pharma LP, Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, Endo International PLC and Allergan PLC and the three biggest drug distributors in the country – AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp..

The consolidated litigation pending before U.S. District Judge Dan Polster involves at least 355 lawsuits filed by cities, counties and others.

Polster has been pushing for a quick, global settlement in the litigation and has invited state attorneys general who have cases in state courts or who are conducting a multistate probe of the companies to participate in those talks.

The first settlement hearing was held in January. A second one is expected March on 6.

The Justice Department is not expected to participate in the settlement discussions. Its statement of interest in the litigation will allow it to eventually get a share of the final settlement the companies pay.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers have not quantified the potential costs involved in the cases but have compared them with the litigation by states against the tobacco industry that led to 1998’s $246 billion settlement.