KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee’s attorney general announced Friday that the state will receive more than $613 million over an 18-year period as part of a historic $26 billion opioid agreement with Johnson & Johnson and three major pharmaceutical distributors.
While the money won’t go directly to opioid addiction victims or their survivors, most will go towards state and local programs to fight the opioid epidemic. Last year, Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation into law to create an Opioid Abatement Trust Fund and Opioid Abatement Council to administer the settlement funds.
The agreement with Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson resolves more than 4,000 lawsuits filed by state and local governments across the country. More than 150 local Tennessee governments joined in the settlement, including every county and city with a population of 25,000 or more.
It is the second largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, second only to the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
Following successful state sign-on and subdivision sign-on periods, funds will be released April 2 to a national administrator. Money will start flowing to state and local governments in the second quarter of 2022.
“Help is on the way,” said Attorney General Herbert Slatery. “Our objective – and the reason we have aggressively held these companies accountable from the start – is to abate the crisis in Tennessee by providing direct assistance to those hit the hardest. We are grateful to our AG colleagues and our state and local leaders for their help and cooperation.”
As part of the agreement, 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 and share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.
The three other companies, 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.