Anne Arundel County will receive an estimated $30 million over the next 18 years after participating in a national settlement agreement with manufacturers and distributors of opioids, the county announced Thursday.
The city of Annapolis will also receive an estimated $1.2 million as part of the settlement, according to City Manager David Jarrell.
The settlement money from opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and the three largest distributors of the drug — Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen — will go toward the efforts to battle opioid addiction among residents, according to a news release Thursday. Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen distribute 85 to 90% of all drugs in the country, said Deputy County Attorney Hamilton Tyler. Johnson & Johnson manufactures opioids Duragesic and Nucynta.
“I’ve had a lot of conservations with my peers across the region about whether this is a good settlement or not and if we should take it, and I believe it is,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said. “I’m really looking forward to having that revenue coming from these companies who clearly deliberately profited off of destroying people’s lives.”
Pittman said the county is planning on making the money available to nonprofits that work on opioid addiction including some at Crownsville Hospital Center such as Hope House Treatment Center, Gaudenzia and Pascal Crisis Stabilization Center. He also hopes to channel some of the money into the county’s crisis response team and safe stations — police and fire stations where residents can get addiction treatment.
“Anne Arundel County was hit pretty hard with the opioid pandemic,” Tyler said. “Police calls were way up. Fire calls were way up. People were suffering, more importantly. It just needed to be addressed.”
Tyler said the legal team hoped to get more money but also wanted to ensure getting it as soon as possible.
“People are suffering now, and we’ve been in this litigation for over four years now, and we’re litigating against very well-heeled companies,” Tyler said.
The settlement money going to Annapolis will go toward city programs such as Naptown AntiDope to continue fighting the opioid epidemic, , Mayor Gavin Buckley said.
“The opioid epidemic has devastated communities, and Annapolis wasn’t immune to it. The over-prescribing of pain pills and all sorts of things really took its toll,” Buckley said. “It’s nice to see some kind of settlement. It won’t return all the lives that were ruined by it, but it will help.”
Anne Arundel County, along with national law firm Motely Rice, was the first Maryland jurisdiction to file a lawsuit against the major opioid manufacturers and distributors including Purdue Pharma which makes OxyContin, Johnson & Johnson, the three big distributors mentioned in the settlement, and Walgreens and Rite Aid in January 2018.
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The Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, announced Thursday it will pay around $6 billion into a settlement fund, in which Maryland is involved.
The Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen settlement money with be given to the state of Maryland to be allocated to the participating jurisdictions. Money will be distributed based on population, impact of the opioid crisis and the existing level of health-related funding in the county or city.
The three distributors involved in the case will make the first payments in April and subsequent payments over the course of 18 years, with Johnson & Johnson beginning in July and distributing payments over the next nine years.
Maryland will receive a maximum total of $395 million from the parties. The county is expected to receive between a $29 million and $31 million share of this based on demographic data of the county, according to the news release.
The larger national settlement agreement is for $5 billion from Johnson & Johnson and $21 billion from the three distributors.
“We’re happy with what we’re getting,” Pittman said. “I’m happy with it.”