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Press Release AG Healey Announces $26 Billion Resolution With Opioid Distributors and Manufacturer

Massachusetts Stands to Receive More Than $500 Million; Sign-on Period Begins for States Across the Country
For immediate release:
7/21/2021
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact for AG Healey Announces $26 Billion Resolution With Opioid Distributors and Manufacturer

Jillian Fennimore

BOSTON Attorney General Maura Healey today announced a $26 billion resolution that will hold accountable several corporations that flooded Massachusetts with dangerous opioids and bring desperately needed relief to people who are struggling with substance use disorder. The agreement includes Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s largest drug distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids. The resolution also requires significant industry changes that will help prevent this type of crisis from ever happening again. Massachusetts stands to receive more than $500 million.

Today’s agreement would resolve investigations and litigation over the companies’ roles in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic. State negotiations were led by the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.

“I promised the people of Massachusetts that the opioid crisis would be a top priority, that we would hold the bad actors accountable, and that the billion-dollar companies who got rich off the suffering in our communities would pay,” said AG Healey. “Today’s announcement is another step forward in that work. This money will benefit every city and town in every part of our state. My team worked hard to make this happen, and we will continue to pursue justice for the people who were hurt and secure resources for prevention, treatment, and recovery.”

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.

The AG’s Office supports today’s resolution and has been laying the groundwork for its implementation in Massachusetts, including through the creation of the state’s new Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund, to ensure that funds are spent on harm reduction, treatment, and prevention. 

Funding

  • 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.
  • In Massachusetts, AG Healey will work to ensure that all of the money will 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 impact of the crisis on the state – the number of overdose deaths, the number of residents with substance use disorder, the number of opioids prescribed, and the population of the state.

Injunctive Relief

  • 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.

Today’s settlement comes as a result of investigations by state attorneys general into whether the 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.

Since taking office, AG Healey has prioritized combating the opioid epidemic through a multi-disciplinary approach that includes enforcement, policy, prevention, and education efforts. In June 2018, AG Healey was the first state attorney general to sue members of the Sackler family for their role in creating the opioid crisis, and announced a $4.3 billion resolution Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers earlier this month that includes unprecedented public disclosure. In February 2021, AG Healey co-led a $573 million settlement with McKinsey & Company over claims it advised Purdue on how to target doctors to “turbocharge” OxyContin sales. In May 2021, AG Healey filed a lawsuit against Publicis Health, a significant player in the American drug marketing industry, alleging it designed and deployed unfair and deceptive marketing schemes to help Purdue Pharma sell more OxyContin.

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Media Contact for AG Healey Announces $26 Billion Resolution With Opioid Distributors and Manufacturer

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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