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Phila. files suit over opioid settlement

In the first big challenge to the proposed $26 billion national opioid settlement, the Philadelphia district attorney on Thursday sued Pennsylvania’s attorney general over the deal, saying the city stands to get only a pittance to cope with an epidemic that is killing more than 1,000 people a year.

With Philadelphia pursuing its own, potentially more lucrative litigation against the opioid industry, District Attorney Larry Krasner denounced the national agreement and asked a state court to declare that Attorney General Josh Shapiro has no authority to bind the city to it.

Krasner blasted Shapiro, a fellow Democrat, for acquiescing to a settlement that he said fails to hold opioid distributors and manufacturers sufficiently accountable for the damage they have caused in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

“We are not going to accept a settlement that is a sellout,” Krasner said. “And from what I see, this is a sellout. The money is too low, the payments are too slow, and the money may never show.”

Shapiro’s spokesperson accused Krasner of “misrepresenting the facts to Pennsylvanians.”

The national settlement “is the only way to jump-start a billion dollars’ worth of treatment for communities in need any time soon,” said the spokesperson, Molly Stieber. “The alternative is to make families wait years for an uncertain outcome that could leave them with nothing.”

The state’s top prosecutor and expected 2022 gubernatorial candidate has previously acknowledged the opioid epidemic’s cost is “far more than this deal” but said it would provide an infusion of funds for treatment and addiction and put in place significant controls on the industry. Shapiro’s office said the settlement already gives local governments the ability to sue if they opt out of the national deal.

The settlement is part of the ongoing effort to address the nationwide opioid addiction and overdose crisis. Prescription drugs and illegal ones like heroin and illicitly produced fentanyl have been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000.

If approved, the settlement will likely be the largest of many in the opioid litigation playing out nationwide. The proposed national settlement would deliver about $1 billion to Pennsylvania.