CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — More details are available about the historic $26 billion national opioid settlement.
On Wednesday, lawyers with the plaintiffs arrived at a settlement that would require drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson to pay $5 billion, while drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, and Cardinal Health will have to collectively pay $21 billion.
The money would be paid out during 18 years, with the most money in the beginning.
The fewer states that sign on, the less the maximum distribution amount will be.
The settlement terms also ban Johnson & Johnson from selling opioids for the next 10 years.
“There’s responsibility that’s being recognized, there are massive conduct changes that are being agreed to because they recognize the way they did business was not right; it wasn’t compliant, it wasn’t safe,” said attorney Jose Rice.
70% of the money will go towards “abatement,” which could mean paying for more drug medical treatment, paying for drug prevention education, or getting medical treatment for babies that are born addicted to opioids.
Attorney Paul Gellar says each community has different needs.
“I don’t like using the term restrictive use, it’s really approved use, and it’s a broad use and it gives discretion to the communities — but the main point is it will be used for those purposes but it won’t be used to fill potholes or to build libraries or to balance budgets,” said Gellar.
14 attorneys general have said they will accept the settlement including Ohio’s attorney general Dave Yost.
In a statement, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine wrote: “Thanks to the work of our nation’s attorneys general, the opioid makers and distributors that tore Ohio families apart are being held accountable and will support communities in their recovery.”
But West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says the settlement “shortchanges” the state of West Virginia because the payout favors larger states and not those that were the most impacted.
“West Virginia is a resounding no on these agreements and will continue to litigate and negotiate outside the framework of today’s announcement,” said Morrisey in a statement.
The pending trial in Charleston’s federal courthouse where Cabell County and Huntington are also suing the big three opioid distributors will not be impacted by the settlement.