State News

Drug Distributors And Johnson & Johnson Commit To $26 Billion Opioid Agreement

Attorney General Alan Wilson announced today the final approval of the $26 billion opioid agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – and Johnson & Johnson. Following successful state sign-on and subdivision sign-on periods, the defendants will start releasing funds to a national administrator on April 2, 2022. Money will start flowing to South Carolina in the second quarter of 2022.

“These settlements will provide much-needed financial resources which will help combat South Carolina’s opioid epidemic,” noted Attorney General Wilson. “My Office looks forward to working with stakeholders around the state to ensure that these dollars have the greatest impact possible in each of our communities.”

The agreement marks the culmination of three years of negotiations to resolve more than 4,000 claims of state and local governments across the country. It is the second-largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, second only to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

Fifty-two states and territories have signed on to the agreement as well as thousands of local governments across the country. In South Carolina, all 46 counties and all 43 eligible municipalities, as well as the Health Services District of Kershaw County, have signed on to the agreement. As a result, South Carolina expects to receive more than $300 million over the next 18 years. Under an agreement reached by the Attorney General and the litigating counties, 92% of these funds will be used to directly address the opioid crisis in South Carolina, including by supporting treatment, recovery, harm reduction, and other strategies. More information about this agreement will be revealed in the coming days. 

In addition to the funds, 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.

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.
  • Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.

Additional information about the opioid settlements is available at https://www.nationalopioidsettlement.com.

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