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State attorney general announces details of $26B opioid settlement

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced details of a $26 billion settlement with...
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced details of a $26 billion settlement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors and Johnson and Johnson Friday.(Storyblocks)
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 9:05 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2022 at 12:20 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced details of a $26 billion settlement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors and Johnson and Johnson Friday.

Wilson’s office says Friday’s agreement marks the culmination of three years of negotiations to resolve more than 4,000 claims nationwide.

Wilson says the $26 billion settlement is the second-largest multistate agreement in United States history, second only to the tobacco settlement agreement.

All 46 South Carolina counties signed on the agreement along with all 43 eligible municipalities and the Health Services District of Kershaw County.

Wilson says the state expects to receive more than $300 million over the next 18 years with 92% of the funds used to directly address the state’s opioid crisis. The funding will be used to support treatment, recovery and harm reduction.

According to the attorney general’s website, the lawsuit was filed in 2019 against Johnson and Johnson, Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen claiming the makers had failures to prevent diversion of prescription opioids in the state.

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.

Wilson’s office says a news conference to discuss the settlement is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday.

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