Virginia expected to receive $530M from proposed $26B opioid settlement

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia is expected to receive up to $530 million from a proposed $26 billion settlement with Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three largest drug distribution companies after a multi-year investigation into how the companies played a role in the ongoing opioid crisis.

The specific figures of the deal were shared Wednesday in a press release from Attorney General Mark Herring’s office.

Three drug distributors, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal, will pay the states and localities who sued up to $21 billion over 18 years and will be required to share prescribing information. Under the proposed agreement, Virginia will get up to $427 million from the companies.

Johnson & Johnson will have to pay up to $5 billion over a nine-year period and must stop producing opioids. The commonwealth will get $100 million from Johnson & Johnson, according to the attorney general’s office.

“The roots of the opioid crisis began in the marketing offices and board rooms of pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson and ran straight into the homes and medicine cabinets of Virginians,” Herring said in a statement. “Distributors like McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal spread billions of doses of highly addictive opioids throughout our communities, helping to fuel a crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and upended the lives of Virginians in every corner of our Commonwealth.” 

The bulk of the money coming to Virginia will go to the commonwealth’s opioid abatement authority, a board aimed to “ensure that funds are used wisely to support prevention, treatment, and recovery.”

“No dollar amount will ever be able to bring back the Virginians we have lost to this devastating epidemic, but we can at least dedicate our time and resources to preventing further loss through prevention, treatment, and recovery,” Herring’s statement continued.

Herring’s office provided the terms of the proposed agreement that each company must meet.

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 will:

  • 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.

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