$26B opioid settlement nearing in suit against manufacturers and distributers

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In a major, long-awaited announcement, attorneys general from more than a dozen states announced a historic proposed agreement with opioid manufacturers and distributors. McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, Amerisource Bergen and Johnson & Johnson are named.

$26 billion is at stake in the global agreement and outlined in the agreement, New York State would receive up to $1.25 billion under previously announced settlements with the four companies.

“What it will do is provide prevention, and education and abatement and beds to those organizations and hospitals who need it now more than ever,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said.

One local organization that is part of the fight against the opioid epidemic is Trillium Health, which says it has seen a significant uptick in drug overdoses.

“We’re seeing it hit much closer to home. We’re seeing it right here in the communities where we live. We’ve known that it was here and existed but it seems to be that the frequency of overdoses just seems to escalate,” said Julia Ritzler-Shelling, director of harm reduction services at Trillium Health.

“These programs that we have been operating since the early 1990s have existed on a very small budget that comes out of the New York State Department of Health. The budget amounts have never increased in proportion to the need,” Ritzler-Shelling said.

“We’ve seen more overdoses in the past few months than we’ve seen in a very long time, so we definitely need to make sure sure that the money goes to organizations at a very local level, working one-on-one with people in a harm reduction fashion,” she said.

Attorney General James stated that this is a civil settlement and not criminal, so the agreement as it stands is silent on any criminal prosecution.

If approved by a critical mass of states and local governments across the country, it would resolve the claims of nearly 4,000 entities that have filed lawsuits both on the federal and state level against the four companies.