Opioid settlement agreement with J&J, distributors could bring more than $300M to Minnesota

The money would be paid out over the next 18 years.
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Minnesota could receive more than $300 million over the next 18 years as part of a multistate opioid settlement agreement with Johnson & Johnson and three distributors.

The deal was announced Wednesday afternoon by multiple attorneys general, including Keith Ellison, and could ultimately total $26 billion if conditions are met. Up to $337 million of that could be funneled to Minnesota, with most of the funds spent on opioid treatment and prevention, according to Ellison's office.

"No amount of money can bring back the nearly 5,000 lives we lost in Minnesota or fully restore the communities devastated in every part of our state,” Ellison said in a statement. “But it is still critically important to hold these companies financially accountable for their role in creating and extending the opioid crisis, and this agreement does that and more." 

J&J will be responsible for as much as $5 billion over the next nine years, with about three-quarters of that being paid out in the first three years. The company must also stop selling opioids and stop lobbying efforts related to opioids.

Three pharmaceutical distributors — Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen — would be be responsible for the remaining $21 billion in payments, which would go out over the next 18 years. They're also required to provide data and analytics to authorities, and must actively track "suspicious" opioid orders. 

To receive the full amount, each participating state will need to sign on to the deal, and a "critical mass" of local governmental bodies must also take steps to support the agreement.

If approved, this settlement agreement would resolve the nearly 4,000 investigations and claims against these companies that have been filed by state and local governments.

According to CNBC, authorities had alleged J&J publicly downplayed the risk of addiction for opioid users, while the distributors were accused of loose regulations that allowed the pills to enter the black market.

Ellison recently announced a similar settlement agreement with Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma. That deal would send $50 million or more to Minnesota for opioid treatment and prevention.

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