Attorney General William Tong on Wednesday announced an historic $26 billion agreement with pharmaceutical distributors Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson to bring desperately needed resources to fight the opioid crisis.
Connecticut will receive approximately $300 million as part of the landmark settlement.
In addition to the cash payment – the largest legal settlement since the multistate tobacco settlement – the agreement also requires significant industry changes that will help prevent this type of crisis from ever happening again. The agreement would resolve investigations and litigation over the companies’ roles in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic. Connecticut was among the states leading the complex, multistate negotiations, along with North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
The settlement will be paid out over 18 years, with funds directed to opioid abatement, including expanding access to opioid use disorder prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery. Municipalities will receive 15 percent of the state’s allocation. State funds will be distributed through a state Opioid Recovery & Remediation Fund Advisory Council, administered by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
“Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen ignored glaring red flags that should have blocked the flood of highly addictive painkillers into communities Connecticut and the United States. Johnson & Johnson callously misled patients and doctors about the deadly addictive nature of their opioid drugs. Together, these corporations reaped profits from the pain and suffering of Connecticut families. This settlement—among the largest in U.S. history—brings billions of dollars back into our communities to begin to heal the devastation of the opioid epidemic. These negotiations have unfolded over many months, and Connecticut fought hard at every turn to secure the maximum amount of justice and accountability. No money will ever match the trauma and tragedy of losing a parent or child to opioid addiction, but it is my sincere hope that with these funds and strong new safeguards we can begin to turn the tide on this epidemic,” said Attorney General Tong in a release.
“This is a historic settlement, and I’m proud Connecticut and our Attorney General William Tong has played such a significant role in holding these companies accountable for their actions,” said Governor Ned Lamont in the release. “These dollars will be an incredible support in our State and local efforts to halt opioid addiction before it starts, and get help to those who need it most. My administration has been committed since day one to breaking down barriers between government, businesses, and non-profit sectors to make progress, and that couldn’t be more critical than it is in this crisis. The only way we can stop addiction is together.”
“This settlement will provide us with the resources to continue combatting the long-lasting and destructive ripple effects of this epidemic. Working to eradicate the opioid crisis requires a multifaceted approach inclusive of prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services. Resources will help us amplify our community and state partnerships to address the effects of the pandemic on individuals, families and communities,” Dept of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) Acting Commissioner Nancy Navarretta said.
The agreement would resolve the claims of both states and local governments across the country, including the nearly 4,000 that have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts. Following today’s agreement, states have 30 days to sign onto the deal and local governments in the participating states will have up to 150 days to join to secure a critical mass of participating states and local governments. States and their local governments will receive maximum payments if each state and its local governments join together in support of the agreement.
• The three distributors collectively will 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 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.
•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.
Injunctive Relief Overview:
The 10-year agreement will result in court orders requiring Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen to:
• Establish a centralized independent clearinghouse to provide all three distributors and state regulators with aggregated data and analytics about where drugs are going and how often, eliminating blind spots in the current systems used by distributors.
• Use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies.
• Terminate customer pharmacies’ ability to receive shipments, and report those companies to state regulators, when they show certain signs of diversion.
• Prohibit shipping of and report suspicious opioid orders.
• Prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders.
• Require senior corporate officials to engage in regular oversight of anti-diversion efforts.
The 10-year agreement will result in court orders requiring Johnson & Johnson to:
• Stop selling opioids.
• Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids.
• Not lobby on activities related to opioids.
• Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.
This settlement comes as a result of investigations by state attorneys general into whether the three distributors fulfilled their legal duty to refuse to ship opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders and whether Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid drugs.
This settlement comes as a result of investigations by state attorneys general into whether the three distributors fulfilled their legal duty to refuse to ship opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders.
Special Counsel for Opioids Assistant Attorney General Matthew Fitzsimmons, Assistant Attorneys General Sara Nadim and Ann-Marie DeGraffenreidt, Deputy Associate Attorney General Jeremy Pearlman, former Assistant Attorneys General Judge Kim Massicotte and Eleanor Mullen have assisted the attorney general in this matter.