BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Each of Idaho’s 44 counties and 24 eligible cities will participate in nationwide opioid settlements, potentially worth $119 million to the state, the Republican Attorney General of the State said Monday. Idaho, Lawrence Wasden.
He said counties and cities had agreed to sign the $26 billion settlements involving the three largest U.S. drug distribution companies and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson. The money would help address the harm caused by opioids, which the federal government declared a public health emergency in 2017.
Wasden and Republican Gov. Brad Little announced in August that the state would accept the deal and become eligible for a minimum of $64 million. State participation paved the way for local government entities to participate, and all eligible people have now done so, bringing the amount of money potentially paid out to Idaho to approximately $119 million. .
“This level of participation shows the strong commitment of state and local governments to working together to secure as much money as possible to address the opioid epidemic in Idaho,” Wasden said in a statement.
Idaho’s Drug Overdose Prevention Program, established in 2016 to increase awareness of opioid use and prevent overdoses, said opioid overdose deaths have generally increased in recent decades, going from just over 20 deaths per year in 2000 to 123 in 2016 and 116 in 2017.
“The opioid crisis is taking lives and destroying families in Idaho,” Little said in June 2019 when he signed an executive order to address opioid and substance abuse by creating the Advisory Group on opioids to examine strategies.
The nationwide deadline for local governments to accept the agreements is Jan. 26, and enough must sign up for the regulations to take effect. An announcement in February is expected on whether the threshold has been met, Wasden said. If reached, participants could see their first payouts in April.
By signing the national settlement, the government entities agree to waive their own lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.
For Idaho, Johnson & Johnson’s payment of $22 million would be spread over nine years. The $98 million payment from drug distributors would be spread over 18 years.
Under the agreement, 40% of the money would go to participating counties and cities, and an additional 20% to regional public health districts.
The remaining 40% would go to the state-run Opioid Settlement Fund, created by lawmakers earlier this year and signed into law by Little. The Idaho Legislature would appropriate the money from the fund based on recommendations from the Idaho Behavioral Health Council, which is part of the Idaho Department of Health and Wellness.
The settlement agreements, in addition to payouts, include increased accountability and oversight for drug companies, changes to how prescriptions are dispensed and sold, independent oversight, a national database to help stop drug deliveries. opioids to pharmacies where abuse occurs, and a ban on Johnson & Johnson selling or promoting opioids.
A settlement has not been reached with Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin and the company most closely associated with opioids.
Earlier this month, a federal judge dismissed Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy settlement of thousands of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic over a provision that would protect members of the billionaire Sackler family, owners of the company, against civil lawsuits related to opioids.