On Monday, Feb. 28, Attorney General Denise N. George announced the final approval of the $26 billion opioid agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – and Johnson & Johnson.
The defendants will start releasing funds to a national administrator on April 2, 2022, following successful state sign-on and subdivision sign-on periods. State and local governments and territories will begin to receive money in the second quarter of 2022.
There have been fifty-two states and territories that have signed onto the agreement and thousands of local governments. On behalf of the Virgin Islands, Attorney-General George signed onto the agreement for the Virgin Islands on August 3, 2020. As a result, the territory will receive its share of the $7,965,449.15 settlement based on its population size and severity of the opioid crisis compared to the other states, counties, and territories.
According to Attorney General George, “Under the terms of the settlement agreement, eighty-five percent of these funds will go directly to support treatment, recovery, harm reduction, and other strategies to address opioid abuse and addiction.”
The agreement marks three years of negotiations for resolving more than 4,000 state and local governments’ claims. It is the second-largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, second only to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
In addition to the funds, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen will:
• 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.
Johnson & Johnson is required 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.