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Virginia positioned for half-billion dollar recovery in opioid settlement

opioid crisis
Photo Credit: Robert Wilson

Virginia localities and stakeholders have now agreed to the $26 billion settlement framework negotiated against opioid distributors and Johnson & Johnson.

The Commonwealth’s share is expected to be approximately $530 million for state and local governments, though the total would have been significantly reduced and the timeframe extended if even one locality had opted-out of the framework. Virginia is one of the first states to secure 100 percent voluntary participation from local stakeholders.

The majority of the funds will be deposited into the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority to fund opioid abuse prevention, education, treatment, and recovery efforts.

“This is really great news for the Commonwealth because it means we’re going to have the most money possible—hundreds of millions of dollars—available as quickly as possible to support substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery. It will, without a doubt, be the biggest investment in treatment and recovery in the history of the Commonwealth,” Attorney General Mark Herring said.

“We know there is a huge need for treatment and recovery services, which is why we worked so hard to secure buy-in from localities, and why we created the Opioid Abatement Authority to handle the Commonwealth’s share of any recovered funds. While no dollar amount will ever bring back the loved ones lost, we’re still going to get every dollar we can from the big pharmaceutical companies that helped create and prolong this crisis because we want them to be held accountable for their actions and we want them to help pay the cost of fixing the problem they created.

“Families in every community from Southwest Virginia to the Eastern Shore and everywhere in between have been impacted by the opioid crisis,” said State Sen. Todd Pillion, chair of the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority Board. “Our Opioid Abatement Authority is an innovative way to ensure that as much money as possible goes to treatment, recovery, and prevention, and I’m proud of the commitments we’ve secured from our local government partners. It is a real testament to the all-hands-on-deck approach that the Commonwealth is bringing to this problem. I appreciate Attorney General Herring’s team for their work in pursuing these cases and for establishing the Authority, and for partnering with us to maximize the resource available to address this crisis.”

Herring helped secure a $26 billion settlement from opioid distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal, and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson last summer. The amount available to the Commonwealth and its localities is expected to total approximately $530 million with the majority of the Commonwealth’s share going into the Opioid Abatement Authority created by Herring to ensure the money is used to support treatment and prevention.

Under the terms of the settlement, states’ shares were based on the percentage of qualifying localities who agreed to participate in the settlement. Some provisions of the settlement meant that the amount of recoverable money could have been cut by nearly half if only 10 percent of the localities opted out.

After months of hard work, 133 cities and counties, ten towns, eleven schools districts, three hospital authorities, and one sheriff’s office have all agreed to participate, meaning that the Commonwealth will get every dollar available to it, and a significant portion of J&J’s payment will be made in one upfront payment rather than spread over four years.

augusta free press
augusta free press