July 30, 2021
$26 billion settlement strikes at opioid epidemic
OAKLAND – (INT) - A historic $26 billion settlement has been struck that will help Californians and those across the country who are struggling with opioid addiction.

Named in the settlement announce d Wednesday are Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, a company that manufactured and marketed opioids.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said the settlement would resolve investigations and litigation over the companies’ roles in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic. It settles the claims of both states and local governments across the country, including the nearly 4,000 individuals who have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts.

Under the terms of the settlement:

• The three distributors will collectively pay up to $21 billion over 18 years;

• Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion to be paid during the first three years;

• The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall degree of participation by both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments;

• The substantial majority of the money is to be spent on opioid treatment and prevention; and

• Each state’s share of the funding has been determined by agreement among the states using a formula that considers the impact of the opioid crisis on the state – the number of overdose deaths, the number of residents with substance use disorder, and the number of opioids prescribed – and the population of the state.

In 2019, the California Department of Public Health reported 3,244 deaths related to an opioid overdose. The epidemic has resulted in considerable costs to the state in the form of healthcare, child welfare, criminal justice, and many other programmatic costs.

Opioid addiction, abuse, and overdose deaths have torn families apart, damaged relationships, and eroded the social fabric of communities. In addition, the uncertainty and stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to feed the increase in opioid overdose deaths, Bonta said Wednesday.
Story Date: July 22, 2021
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