drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson commit to $26 billion opioid deal

RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) – Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced final approval of the $26 billion opioid deal with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – and Johnson & Johnson.

After successful periods of state signing and subdivision, defendants will begin disbursing funds to a national administrator on April 2, 2022. Money will begin disbursing to state and local governments in the second quarter of 2022.

“The opioid crisis has devastated many communities, families and lives in Virginia. The Attorney General’s Office is dedicated to this fight and is proud to have played a part in this historic settlement, which every city and county in Virginia has joined. For this reason, the Commonwealth expects to receive approximately $530 million to address the opioid epidemic and support efforts to reduce, prevent and treat opioid addiction,” said Attorney General Miyares.

The agreement marks the culmination of three years of negotiations aimed at resolving more than 4,000 claims from states and local governments across the country. It is the second largest multi-state agreement in US history, second only to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

State negotiations were led by Attorneys General Josh Stein (NC) and Herbert Slatery (TN) and Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, from New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.

52 states and territories have signed the agreement, along with thousands of local governments across the country. In Virginia, all 95 counties and 38 independent cities have signed the agreement.

As a result, Virginia expects to receive its full share of approximately $530 million. The majority of funds will go to the Opioid Abatement Authority of Virginia, which provides grants and loans to agencies and localities in Virginia to support efforts to reduce, prevent, and treat opioid use disorders and fight the opioid epidemic.

In addition to the funds, Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen will:

  • Establish a centralized independent clearinghouse to provide the three distributors and state regulators with aggregated data and analytics on where and how often drugs go, eliminating blind spots in the current systems used by distributors.
  • Use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies.
  • Terminate the ability of customer pharmacies to receive shipments and report these companies to state regulators when they show certain signs of diversion.
  • Prohibit shipping and report suspicious opioid orders.
  • Prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders.
  • Require senior company officials to engage in regular monitoring of anti-diversion efforts.

Johnson & Johnson is required to:

  • Stop selling opioids.
  • Do not fund or grant grants to third parties for the promotion of opioids.
  • Do not pressure opioid-related activities.
  • Share clinical trial data through the Yale University Open Data Access Project.

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