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Michigan could receive $800 million from landmark opioid settlement

Opioid Life Expectancy
Opioid Life Expectancy
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 5:04 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Michigan could be in line for a huge payday from the landmark $26 billion opioid settlement with four pharmaceutical giants.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the state’s share could reach $800 million over the life of the settlement. Only the 1998 national tobacco settlement has involved more more for the state.

Attorneys general across the United States are nearing a deal with Johnson & Johnson and the three largest drug distributors in the U.S.: Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen. The settlement would end nearly 4,000 lawsuits filed in state and federal courts nationwide.

The draft settlement requires Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen to pay $21 billion collectively over 18 years -- an average of $7 billion apiece. Johnson & Johnson would be required to pay $5 billion over nine years, including $3.7 billion in the first three years.

Most of the settlement money would be earmarked for opioid treatment and prevention.

Nessel said the lawsuits and settlement will hold the four companies responsible for contributing to the opioid epidemic plaguing America. The agreement includes industry-wide changes that are designed to prevent another crisis from happening again.

“When I ran for Attorney General, I made a commitment to do everything possible to assist our state residents whose lives have been torn apart by the opioid epidemic. I am thrilled to be delivering on that promise,” Nessel said. “This historic settlement will help save lives and further combat the ongoing crisis, while also ensuring those who created this catastrophe pay for our collective recovery.”

The three distributors are accused of shipping opioid drugs to pharmacies that submitted suspicious orders. Johnson & Johnson is accused of misleading the public about the addictive nature of opioid drugs.

Michigan was the first state to sue major drug distributors for their role in contributing to the opioid crisis. That case remains pending in the courts, but the $26 billion settlement would resolve claims against three of four defendants.

Litigation in that case would continue against Walgreens, which is not part of the national settlement.

“For far too long, local communities have carried the burden of fighting against the opioid epidemic and felt those in a position to advocate for them weren’t listening,” Nessel said. “This settlement will bring much-needed financial support for ongoing intervention, services and treatment efforts statewide, and eventual healing for Michigan families.”

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