VIDEO | Del., Md. Part Of Massive Proposed Opioid Settlement

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Maryland, Delaware and other states have announced a massive settlement proposal with the three largest distributors of opioids in the United States – Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – as well as manufacturer, Johnson and Johnson.

According to Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, the states had been investigating allegations that the companies engaged in a variety of illegal promotional activities, which helped to create the opioid crisis, while distributing many more drugs than warranted for legitimate purposes. Maryland stands to receive as much as $485-million that would help local efforts to address the effects of the opioid epidemic. Delaware would get more than $100-million.

“Delaware has the second worse fatal overdose rate in the entire country per capita,” Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said. “The number of prescription pills that flooded into our state was orders of magnitude beyond any legitimate medical need.”

“While this settlement cannot undo the harm suffered by millions of Americans who have been hurt by the opioid epidemic, it is a very important step forward,” Frosh said.  “We hope and anticipate that this proposed agreement will bring relief for many thousands of Maryland families who continue to suffer the devastating consequences of opioid addiction.”

Frosh’s office provided additional details on the agreement below:

The settlement would resolve the claims of participating states and local governments across the country.  Following today’s announcement, 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.

Funding Overview of the Proposal:

  • The three distributors collectively would pay up to $21 billion over 18 years.
  • Johnson & Johnson would pay up to $5 billion over 9 years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.
  • The total funding distributed would 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.

Injunctive Relief Overview:

  • The 10-year agreement would 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 would 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.

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