Ohio AG agrees to $26 billion multi-state settlement with opioid companies


COLUMBUS OH, (WCMH) — The three largest distributors of opioids plus drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson have agreed to pay a $26 billion settlement to help victims of the opioid epidemic in Ohio and across the nation.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost made the announcement Wednesday about the multi-state settlement with opioid distributors Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, plus opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

Yost joined other state attorneys general to resolve pending litigation related to the companies’ role in promoting the opioid epidemic.

Between 2010 to 2019, more than 23,700 Ohioans died from opioid overdoses, according to the Ohio Department of Health. In addition, During the second quarter of 2020 in Ohio, 11 of every 100,000 people died of an opioid overdose — that’s the state’s highest death rate at any point during the epidemic.

Nationwide, opioid overdose deaths rose nearly 30 percent last year over the previous year.

“This isn’t an antidote for this devastating crisis that killed so many, but the financial resources will provide for significant recovery in Ohio,” Yost said.

Under the agreement, the funds will mostly go toward opioid treatment and prevention. In addition to the monetary settlement, the drug distributors and manufacturers agreed to make significant changes to help prevent a similar drug crisis from happening again.

Meanwhile, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reemphasized his opposition to the nationwide opioid settlement Wednesday, stating the current proposed settlement with three distributors and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson favors the nation’s largest states by distributing settlement proceeds largely based upon the population of the state as opposed to the intensity of the opioid crisis.

West Virginia is a resounding no on these agreements and will continue to litigate and negotiate outside the framework of today’s announcement.

Attorney General Morrisey said Wednesday. 

The Attorney General has a similar position in continued negotiations involving the bankruptcy of opioid maker Purdue Pharma. Morrisey will argue in opposition to Purdue’s bankruptcy plan next month in New York.

Overview of the settlement funding

  • The three distributors collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 17 years.
  • Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.
  • The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall participation of both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments.
  • The substantial portion of the money must be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.
  • Each state’s share of the funding has been determined by agreement among the states using a formula that takes into account the impact of the 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.

More information can be found on the Ohio Attorney General’s web site.

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