Frequently Asked Questions About the AG's Statewide Opioid Settlements

This page provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the AG's statewide opioid settlements.

Table of Contents

(1) How will abatement funds MA receives under statewide opioid settlements be distributed?

Under the terms of the state’s approved State-Subdivision Agreement, 40% of abatement funds coming into Massachusetts under statewide opioid settlements will be allocated to the state’s municipalities to expend on abatement strategies developed with input from public health experts, municipal leaders, and families affected by the crisis; and 60% of the abatement funds will be allocated to the state’s Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund to fund additional prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery programs throughout Massachusetts.  

(2) Do municipalities have a role in the statewide Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund?

Yes. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services, together with a Council comprised of 10 municipal appointees appointed by the Massachusetts Municipal Association and 10 state appointees, oversees the Fund. The appointees are qualified by experience and expertise regarding opioid use disorder. 

In its first year, the Council met four times and focused on reviewing the scope of the opioid crisis in Massachusetts, the existing landscape of substance use prevention and treatment programming in Massachusetts, and opportunities to address racial and geographic inequities in substance use prevention and treatment. The Council dedicated significant time to developing a set of principles for future expenditures from the Fund.

Council meeting minutes, materials and Annual Reports are available here.   

(3) How much will MA municipalities receive from the statewide opioid settlements?

Charts reflecting the estimated, maximum annual distributions to participating municipalities from the statewide opioid settlements are hereThese amounts are subject to adjustment, including deductions to account for the costs of settlement administration. 

Lawyers and experts in the national opioid litigation developed the municipal allocation model based on federal data on opioid use disorder, overdose deaths and 2006-2016 opioid shipments into Massachusetts, by region and community. Distributions allocated to municipalities that do not participate in a particular statewide opioid settlement (i.e., municipalities that do not sign settlement participation forms) will be directed to the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund

(4) How can MA municipalities sign on to the recently announced Walmart settlement?

The Walmart settlement is currently undergoing final review and approval by state Attorneys General. The parties are optimistic that the settlement will gain support of the required 43 states by the end of 2022, allowing local governments to join the resolution during the first quarter of 2023.  Further information about the sign-on process will be forthcoming.

(5) When will municipalities receive payments?

Once participating municipalities complete and submit through the Portal a Payment Election Form and W-9, payments should be available to flow, as follows:

  • Distributor payments 1: July 15, 2022
  • Distributor payment 2: August/September 2022
  • Distributor payments 3-18: July/August 2023-2038
  • Johnson & Johnson payments 1-5: October 31, 2022
  • Johnson & Johnson payments 6-11: July/August, 2026-2031

(6) Where can municipalities find further guidance about how to utilize abatement funds?

The Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services has created a website with resources and guidance for municipalities. For further information or other technical assistance, municipalities can also email DPHMuniOpioidAbatementQs@mass.gov.

(7) Do state procurement laws apply to expenditure of municipal abatement funds?

Yes, state procurement laws apply to expenditure of municipal abatement funds, subject to certain permitted exceptions and exemptions.  Exceptions and exemptions that may be relevant to municipalities seeking to expend abatement funds include, for example, an exception for grant agreements between municipalities and nonprofit entities for a public purpose, and an exemption for contracts or agreements entered into by a municipal hospital or a municipal department of health. 

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has published answers to frequently asked questions about use of municipal abatement funds here. In addition, the OIG's Chapter 30B Manual provides helpful guidance on the state laws governing municipal procurement of supplies, services, real property. The OIG has a Chapter 30B team trained in public procurement that can provide you with technical guidance and answer your questions. To speak with someone on the OIG’s procurement team, call 617-722-8838 or email 30BHotline@mass.gov

(8) Where can I find guidance about how to treat municipal abatement funds under state finance law?

The Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services (DLS) published answers to frequently asked questions about municipal treatment of opioid settlement funds in its July 7, 2022 issue of City & Town. 

For answers to finance law questions relating to the municipal abatements funds, local officials should email their question and phone number to Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services at DLSlaw@dor.state.ma.us.

(9) Can I find out how much my town has received and who to speak with about the plans to spend it?

Yes. Payments received as of November 4, 2022 are shown here, and the AG’s Opioid Team can put you in touch with a municipal contact. To speak with someone on the AG’s Opioid Team, email MAOpioidSettlements@mass.gov.

(10) What about attorney’s fees?

Each of the statewide opioid settlements the Attorney General has negotiated establish attorneys’ fees and costs funds for attorneys representing municipalities that join the settlements and require attorneys who recover from those funds to waive enforcement of their contingency fee entitlements as to all of their clients and notify their clients accordingly.  

The state’s investigation and litigation against the opioid industry is handled by government lawyers in AG Healey’s office. No money from these Settlements will go to pay any state lawyers.

(11) How can I speak with someone on the Attorney General’s opioids team?

To speak with someone on the Attorney General’s opioids team, please email your contact information and question to MAOpioidSettlements@mass.gov.

(12) Where will settlement recoveries from bankrupt opioid defendants go?

Recoveries from settlements with bankrupt opioid defendants, including Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt, will be spent to address the opioid crisis, in accordance with plans of reorganization approved by the bankruptcy court.

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