$26B settlement with opioid distributors, Johnson & Johnson wins final approval
Minnesota to receive $303 million over 18 years to fight the opioid crisis; amounts local governments to receive released
Commitment follows historic December agreement between State and cities and counties on allocation and use of funds; money to flow as soon as second quarter if legislative changes made
February 25, 2022 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three largest opioid distributors — Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen — have given their final approval to a historic $26 billion settlement, which will bring $303 million to Minnesota. The Attorney General’s Office today released the amounts that each eligible city and county is estimated to receive directly over the 18-year term of the settlements. All funds Minnesota receives will be used for prevention, recovery, harm reduction, and other strategies to address the opioid epidemic.
“No amount of money will ever make up for the death and destruction that opioid companies caused families and communities around Minnesota. Still, it is important to hold them accountable for the harm they’ve done, and these settlements do that,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I am happy to announce that because enough subdivisions nationwide have joined these settlements, the companies have given their final approval to move forward with this historic settlement. I’m especially proud that every Minnesota county and every city with 10,000 people or more has signed on: as a result, Minnesota has maximized the benefit of this settlement for our communities. I thank the cities and counties that signed on for their swift action that will help Minnesotans who need it most,” Attorney General Ellison continued.
The companies’ commitment to move forward with the settlements follows successful efforts in the states to win local subdivisions’ approval of the settlements, including Minnesota’s December agreement between the state and cities and counties that set how the settlement funds will be allocated and used within the state. In Minnesota, all 87 counties as well as 143 cities have signed on to the settlements. Minnesota will receive its full share of $303 million once the Legislature passes legislation necessary to implement the statewide agreement. Once legislation is in place, 75 percent of these funds will go directly to Minnesota’s local communities to support treatment, prevention, recovery, harm reduction, and other strategies to address the opioid epidemic. The remaining 25 percent will go to the State of Minnesota, to be overseen and distributed by the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council (OERAC).
“My office and I are ready to work cooperatively with leaders and members in both the House and the Senate to get a bill to the Governor’s desk as quickly as possible, so that we can get these long-awaited resources into communities where they are desperately needed. I pledge to be a full, active partner to the bill authors in ensuring the legislation passes without delay,” Attorney General Ellison added.
The companies will start releasing funds to a national settlement administrator on April 2, 2022, and money may start flowing to state and local governments as early as the second quarter of 2022, pending passage of the state legislation.
In addition to the list detailing the amount of funds that cities and counties are estimated to receive from the opioid settlements, the Attorney General’s opioid webpage also offers tools, resources, and other information for local governments and others regarding use of the funds and the Office’s efforts to fight the epidemic in Minnesota.
In addition to the funds the companies are required to pay, distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen will:
- 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.
Johnson & Johnson is required 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.
The agreement marks the culmination of three years of negotiations to resolve more than 4,000 claims of state and local governments across the country. It is the second-largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, second only to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. State negotiations were led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery and the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Additional information about the opioid settlements, including a copy of the state-local agreement, an executive summary, and frequently asked questions is available at www.ag.state.mn.us/opioids.