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New efforts coming to La. to end opioid crisis with historic $26B agreement

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 7:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:38 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A new $26 billion settlement is now putting regulations in place for companies that make drugs.

The guidelines are meant to be there for the next 10 years and will focus on keeping major corporations in check. Recovering addicts say they have been waiting for something like this for a long time.

Tonja Myles knows the struggle the day-to-day fight with addiction.

“Those of us who are in recovery, we understand addiction and we know who it kills, feels, and destroys families,” said Myles. “So, it’s our goal to keep all of those who are getting the funding accountable.”

She has now been clean for the last 35 years. She is also a certified peer support specialist, helping others through tough times.

“You know, we treat people from the curbside to the country club,” added Myles.

She believes this new opioid settlement is a game-changer that will save lives.

“I mean, you can’t bring lives back but at least they can step up. We can get the money that we need to help people who need treatment, harm reduction programs, things for families, and so many different resources that I know would help the opioid epidemics,” explained Myles.

The settlement will target the companies that make opioids. They will have to follow set guidelines, looking into where the drugs are going and how often and keep a closer eye on suspicious opioid orders.

Johnson and Johnson will have to stop selling opioids for 10 years, along with providing funding for opioid treatments and preventions.

According to Attorney General Jeff Landry, Louisiana can get $330 million over the course of the next 17 or 18 years.

“This is an agreement between the manufactures and us as to how they are going to distribute opioids around the country and then, number two, the amount of money that’s coming in is we are hoping to make sure it’s used to affect those that are addicted today,” said Landry.

Landry added they will be working with parish governments to start getting some of that funding to the areas that need it.

The following information is from the Office of the Attorney General:

Attorney General Jeff Landry Wednesday, July 21, announced an historic $26 billion agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors and another company which manufactured and marketed opioids. It is expected to help bring much-needed relief to families throughout Louisiana struggling with opioid addiction.

”Today is a great day in our fight to hold accountable those who have stoked the fire of the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Landry, who helped lead state negotiations along with the attorneys general of North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas

.The agreement resolves investigations and litigation with Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Johnson & Johnson over the companies’ roles in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic. The agreement also requires significant industry changes that will help prevent this type of crisis from happening again.”Thousands of our neighbors have buried their loved ones throughout the opioid epidemic, and countless other families in Louisiana remain devastated by the crisis,” continued Attorney General Landry. “They deserve our State’s commitment to treating the addicted and protecting the public from this horrific plague; and I am proud to have delivered this great agreement to them.”The agreement would resolve the claims of both states and local governments across the country, including the nearly 4,000 that have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts. Following today’s agreement, 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.Louisiana is anticipated to receive more than $325 million. “It is our objective that every nickel of this settlement goes to treating those in need – mitigating the damage done to our citizens,” concluded Attorney General Landry. “We will continue working with the legal representatives of the political subdivisions involved in this litigation to make this happen.”Funding Overview:

  • The three distributors collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years.
  • Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.
  • The total funding distributed will 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.
  • Each state’s share of the funding has been determined by agreement among the states using a formula that takes into account the population of the state and the impact of the crisis on the state – the number of overdose deaths, the number of residents with substance use disorder, and the number of opioids prescribed.

Injunctive Relief Overview:

  • The 10-year agreement will 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 will 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.

This settlement comes as a result of investigations by state attorneys general into whether the three distributors fulfilled their legal duty to refuse to ship opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders and whether Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid drugs. It is expected to help bring much-needed relief to families throughout Louisiana struggling with opioid addiction.

”Today is a great day in our fight to hold accountable those who have stoked the fire of the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Landry, who helped lead state negotiations along with the attorneys general of North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The agreement resolves investigations and litigation with Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Johnson & Johnson over the companies’ roles in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic. The agreement also requires significant industry changes that will help prevent this type of crisis from happening again.

”Thousands of our neighbors have buried their loved ones throughout the opioid epidemic, and countless other families in Louisiana remain devastated by the crisis,” continued Attorney General Landry. “They deserve our State’s commitment to treating the addicted and protecting the public from this horrific plague; and I am proud to have delivered this great agreement to them.”

The agreement would resolve the claims of both states and local governments across the country, including the nearly 4,000 that have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts. Following today’s agreement, 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.

Louisiana is anticipated to receive more than $325 million. “It is our objective that every nickel of this settlement goes to treating those in need – mitigating the damage done to our citizens,” concluded Attorney General Landry. “We will continue working with the legal representatives of the political subdivisions involved in this litigation to make this happen.”Funding Overview:

  • The three distributors collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years.
  • Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.
  • The total funding distributed will 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.
  • Each state’s share of the funding has been determined by agreement among the states using a formula that takes into account the population of the state and the impact of the crisis on the state – the number of overdose deaths, the number of residents with substance use disorder, and the number of opioids prescribed.

Injunctive Relief Overview:

  • The 10-year agreement will 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 will 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.

This settlement comes as a result of investigations by state attorneys general into whether the three distributors fulfilled their legal duty to refuse to ship opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders and whether Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid drugs.

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