Wisconsin getting $400 million from opioid settlement

FILE PHOTO - Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three major distributors have finalized the...
FILE PHOTO - Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three major distributors have finalized the largest settlement to date among the many opioid-related cases that have been playing out across the country(Find Rehab Centers / CC BY 2.0)
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 10:27 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With the landmark $26 billion opioid settlements now finalized, Wisconsin is expecting to see the first payment of its share in the coming months. According to Attorney General Josh Kaul’s office, the state is slated to receive over $400 million as part of the agreement with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three major pharmaceutical distributors.

“The hundreds of millions of dollars coming to Wisconsin as a result of this agreement will significantly strengthen Wisconsin’s ability to fight the opioid crisis,” Kaul said.

A Wisconsin law already provides for what the state will do with the money it gets, the Attorney General’s office explained. Thirty percent of the funds will go to the Dept. of Health Services and can only be spent on opioid abatement efforts. The other 70 percent will be divided between the 87 political subdivisions, including city and county governments, involved in the case.

“With these funds, communities across the state will be able to do more to prevent addiction and to support people with substance use disorder,” Kaul continued.

The state expects the first payment from the distributors, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, to come on April 2 of this year. The three companies will continue making payments for the next 18 years. Johnson & Johnson’s first payment comes on July 1 and will continue for nine years.

The amount sent to each state under the opioid settlement depended on a formula that takes into account the severity of the crisis and the population. County and local governments also get shares of the money.

In addition to the payments listed in the settlement, Johnson & Johnson and three drug distributors have each agreed to take several other steps, The attorney general’s office says J&J is required to:

  • Stop selling opioids.
  • Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids.
  • Not lobby on activities related to opioids.
  • Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.

Meanwhile, 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.

Taken together, the settlements are the largest to date among the many opioid-related cases that have been playing out across the country. They’re expected to provide a significant boost to efforts aimed at reversing the crisis in places that have been devastated by it, including many parts of rural America.

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