Announced earlier this afternoon, Wisconsin was awarded $400 million from two class action lawsuit settlements related to the opioid crisis. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) wrote in a statement that “Wisconsin will receive over $400 million from separate settlements with three opioid distributors (Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen) and Johnson & Johnson. The first payment from the opioid distributors is scheduled to be received in April. The payments will continue over 18 years. The first payment from Johnson & Johnson is scheduled to be received in July. The payments will continue over nine years.” How will the money be allocated? Thirty percent, or about $120 million, will go to the DHS. The other seventy percent will go to communities that joined the suits.
This awarded money comes from the heels of the landmark settlement finalized last month where Johnson & Johnson, as well as three other major distributors, of $26 billion. The money from this settlement will be distributed to nearly every state and local government. Wisconsin is the first state to begin receiving the money, with many others still waiting on agreements and numbers to be reached.
According to nbc15 news, “The state expects the first payment from the distributors, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, to come on April 2 of this year… Johnson & Johnson’s first payment comes on July 1.”
The amount each state will be allocated based on a formula that takes into account the severity of the crisis and size of the population. County and local governments will also be getting shares of money. J & J will be required to do more than monetary retribution as well.
The attorney general’s office of Wisconsin said that J & J will be expected to stop selling opioids, stop providing grants to third parties for promoting opioids, stop lobbying on activities related to opioids, and start sharing clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.
Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen will have to prohibit shipping of and report suspicious opioid orders, prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders, and require senior corporate officials to engage in regular oversight of anti-diversion efforts. The three distributors will also have to establish a centralized independent clearinghouse to provide aggregated data and analytics about where drugs are going and how often.
One big question is how will the money be allocated? Who will get to use it and how will it be used? The DHS decided to get public input and send out surveys to see how the money should be distributed. According to WEAU13 news, “The DHS hosted 12 listening sessions since the start of the year, with more than 500 people from the public attending. There was also a survey with more than 300 respondents and nearly 900 comments.” The most common suggestions included: continuation of Narcan availability, substance use prevention education in K-12 schools, expansion in treatment, and safe and stable housing for individuals in treatment or recovery.