Virginia Expects About $530 Million in Opioid Crisis Settlement from Drug Distributors and Johnson & Johnson

Virginia expects about $530 million in a settlement over the opioid crisis with Johnson & Johnson along with pharmaceutical distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, according to a press release from the Virginia Attorney General’s Office (VAOG). The companies announced Friday that there is enough participation by states, territories, and localities who were suing the drug companies to move forward with a national settlement, first announced in July 2021.

In his release, Attorney General Jason Miyares said, “The opioid crisis has devastated many Virginia communities, families, and lives. The Office of the Attorney General is dedicated to this fight and is proud to have played a role in this historic settlement, which every city and county in Virginia joined. Because of this, the Commonwealth expects to receive approximately $530 million dollars to fight back against the opioid epidemic and support efforts to reduce, prevent and treat opioid addiction.”

According to the VAOG release, the total agreement is worth $26 billion; 52 U.S. states and territories and thousands of local governments have signed the agreement. That includes all of Virginia’s counties and independent cities.

In separate releases Friday, Johnson & Johnson and the distributors emphasized that the settlements aren’t an admission of liability in the opioid crisis.

“While the companies continue to strongly dispute the allegations made against them, they believe that the implementation of this settlement is a key milestone toward achieving broad resolution of governmental opioid claims and delivering meaningful relief to communities across the United States that have been impacted by the opioid epidemic,” the press release from the distributors said.

“This settlement agreement is not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing, and the Company will continue to defend against any litigation that this final settlement agreement does not resolve. The Company no longer sells prescription opioid medications in the United States as part of our ongoing efforts to focus on transformational innovation and serving unmet patient needs,” the statement from Johnson & Johnson said.

Under the terms of the settlement, Johnson & Johnson must stop selling opioids, must agree not to lobby in relation to opioids or fund promotion of opioids through third parties, and must share clinical trial data, according to the VAOG release. The distributors must create a centralized source for data and analytics for regulators, and must work to block suspicious opioid distribution. That includes prohibiting sales staff from influencing decisions about the identification of suspicious opioid orders.

“A majority of the funds will go to Virginia’s Opioid Abatement Authority, which provides grants and loans to Virginia agencies and localities to support efforts to reduce, prevent, and treat opioid use disorder and fight the opioid epidemic,” the VAOG release states.

Chair of the Opioid Abatement Authority State Senator Todd Pillion (R-Marion) said in the release, “The opioid epidemic has touched lives in every county, city, and corner of the Commonwealth. This historic settlement will provide resources to help us fight back against opioid addiction and create lasting impact in our communities. It’s time to get to work.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Johnson & Johnson” by Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine.

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