Opioid settlement could bring hundreds of millions of dollars to Virginia

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 4:24 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Hundreds of millions of dollars could be headed to Virginia as part of a major settlement in the fight against opioid distributors and manufacturers. Tuesday, attornies general from dozens of states announced a settlement has been reached with four companies they say lie at the heart of the nation’s opioid crisis.

Under the agreement, distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal would have to set up new safeguards to stop suspicious opioid sales, and manufacturer Johnson and Johnson would have to stop selling opioids all together.

All four companies would also have to pay out billions of dollars to states impacted.

“No amount will bring back the Virginians who we lost,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. “But this is at least a measure of accountability for those who are culpable, and really brings a lot of funding to support addiction treatment and recovery services, that are so desperately needed right now.”

According to Herring, Virginia will receive roughly $530 million from the settlement, most of which will go to the Opioid Abatement Authority, a body created by the general assembly earlier this year to manage funds from settlements like these.

“The overwhelming majority of this money will go into the authority and be used for treatment and recovery and prevention,” said Herring.

But just over the border in West Virginia, officials aren’t satisfied. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a statement criticizing the deal, saying it’s “based upon population as opposed to the intensity of the opioid crisis,” and arguing West Virginia will get more from a separate settlement.

Herring said he believes that a settlement is needed sooner rather than later, with the pandemic driving a spike in opioid deaths.

“It’s really important to get this funding as quickly as possible into those communities for treatment and recovery. And if we don’t do this, how many more are we going to lose?” he said.

According to Herring, Virginia will start receiving money from this settlement “probably within the coming months.” The money will be paid out over the course of three years in the case of Johnson & Johnson, and over 18 years for the three distributors.

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