Louisiana set to receive $350M as part of national opioid settlement
Louisiana is set to receive $350 million as Attorney General Jeff Landry and a bipartisan group of his peers secured a $26 billion national settlement with four companies that manufactured and distributed opioids even as an addiction epidemic escalated.
Landry, a Republican, hailed the deal as "holding accountable those who have stoked the fire of the opioid crisis."
The deal calls for the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson to pay up to $5 billion with drug distributors AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health to pay $6.4 billion each and McKesson to pay $7.9 billion.
“Thousands of our neighbors have buried their loved ones throughout the opioid epidemic, and countless other families in Louisiana remain devastated by the crisis,” Landry said in a statement. “They deserve our state’s commitment to treating the addicted and protecting the public from this horrific plague."
Last year, there were a record 93,000 fatal overdoses from all drugs in the U.S. Most of them involved fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid.
States have 30 days to decide whether to accept the deal, which hinges on how many governments agree to suspend their own opioid lawsuits in favor of the collective agreement.
West Virginia's attorney general has said his state's separate legal efforts will continue against he opioid companies because he believes the formula for distribution of the settlement relies too much on population.
The three distributors 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.
Landry said he believes all of the money should be directed at treatment and prevention.
"It is our objective that every nickel of this settlement goes to treating those in need – mitigating the damage done to our citizens,” Landry said. “We will continue working with the legal representatives of the political subdivisions involved in this litigation to make this happen.”
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.