SEATTLE (AP) — The first tranche of a $518 million settlement with the nation’s three largest opioid distributors will begin reaching Washington communities in December, providing much-needed cash that officials can use to hire first responders or Direct use for prevention, treatment and other services, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Monday.
“These vital resources will help Washington fight the opioid epidemic, which continues to tear holes in the fabric of our communities and families, overwhelm our public health resources, and overwhelm our The foster care system,” Ferguson said at a news conference in Seattle.
Democrat Ferguson rejected a nationwide settlement with distributors McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and American Resources Bergen Company. – and J&J, which is accepted in almost every other state. Under the deal, states will receive nearly $20 billion over 18 years.
Instead, Washington spent six months in a complex trial of the companies before reaching its own settlement in May, worth $46 million more than the state received under the state agreement. Washington is also filing a separate lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, expected to go to trial next year.
Over the past two decades, more than 500,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses, including prescription painkillers and illicit drugs such as heroin. More recently, the spread of illegally produced fentanyl has led to a spike in deaths.
The attorney general argued that the three companies shipped such large quantities of drugs to Washington that it was clear they were fueling addiction: Between 1997 and 2011, opioid sales in the state increased by more than 500 percent. In 2011, more than 112 million daily doses of all prescription opioids distributed in the state were enough to cover each resident’s 16-day supply. In 2015, 8 of Washington’s 39 counties had more prescriptions than residents.
The companies insist that they are simply supplying opioids prescribed by doctors and that it is not their job to speculate after the fact or interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.
In addition, the companies believe that Washington state itself has played a major role in the pandemic. In the 1990s, lawmakers passed the Intractable Pain Act, which made it easier to prescribe opioids, amid concerns that people with chronic pain would not be adequately treated.
Nationwide, the opioid industry has agreed to settlements totaling more than $40 billion.
$518 million in settlements with distributors will flow into Washington over the next 17 years, of which $55 million will go to Dec. 1. About $476 million of the total will be used to address the opioid crisis, such as substance abuse treatment; expand access Opportunity to reverse drug overdose; and provide housing, job placement, and other services for those battling addiction. The rest of the money will be used for litigation costs.
Washington’s settlement requires the approval of 125 cities and counties, which receive $215 million directly and agree on how to distribute the money based on factors such as how much painkillers are shipped to their jurisdictions and how many residents die from overdose. Consistent.
While King County and its cities, Washington’s most populous county, will receive $56 million, some smaller communities will receive smaller amounts. Burien, a suburb south of Seattle, earns just $58,000.
Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon, a registered nurse by training, said she hopes her city will join several other cities in southern King County to raise funds for measures including better crisis treatment centers for the area.
“Many cities are still thinking about what they can do,” she said. “Now that all 125 jurisdictions have signed on, it will be much easier to coordinate.”
Ferguson also rejected the state bankruptcy plan of Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin maker and the Sackler family. In March, he and eight other attorneys general received an additional $1.2 billion from the Sackler family to help states, cities and tribes tackle the opioid epidemic.
Washington’s share of the bankruptcy payment more than doubled to $183 million from $70 million originally planned.