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Courts & Justice

Allegheny County expected to receive $90 million as part of a billion dollar opioid settlement

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Toby Talbot
/
AP

All 67 Pennsylvania counties have signed a $1.07 billion settlement with opioid distributors and manufacturers. The deal is part of a national $26 billion settlement intended to resolve thousands of lawsuits against major pharmaceutical distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health as well as manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday that all of the state’s counties, including 241 local governments, signed the deal by the deadline.

“This historic agreement has now received the support of all 67 counties and many local governments across Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said Wednesday.

The statewide support comes after months of protest by officials in Allegheny County and Philadelphia. Last August, District Attorneys Stephen Zappala in Allegheny County and Larry Krasner in Philadelphia challenged the settlement, arguing the money was not enough to confront the opioid crisis.

In a joint statement issued Thursday, Zappala and Krasner said they will both continue to pursue compensation from the pharmaceutical companies.

"These corporate giants helped ignite and exacerbate the addiction and overdose crisis that has claimed millions of American lives, broken scores of families, and effectively taken hostage whole neighborhoods in our respective jurisdictions,” the statement reads.

The district attorneys called for judges in Allegheny County and Philadelphia to quantify what the corporations owe as a result of violating consumer protection laws and unfair trade practices.

"Allegheny County and Philadelphia deserve deep, sustained compensation in the form of billions of dollars from these companies, which regularly exploit all manner of corporate loopholes while refusing to take any meaningful responsibility for the devastation they have unleashed in communities in our counties," the district attorneys said.

Last month, the Allegheny County Executive’s office announced they would ultimately sign the agreement in an effort to help residents as soon as possible.

“We want our residents to benefit from that agreement and have resources available to them now and are glad to see this process towards settlement move forward another step,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Thursday. “We’re thrilled to see that all 67 counties in the state are now participating in this settlement. Once finalized, we’ll be able to work cooperatively to provide additional resources to the communities and families in our county who have been most impacted by the actions of these distributors.”

Fitzgerald argued last month the settlement would support community resources and prevent similar crises in the future.

“When the county filed its lawsuit in May 2018, we sought two things: to keep these and other similar companies from engaging in the acts and practices that led to the opioid crisis, and to be able to provide additional resources to the communities and families in our county who have been most impacted by their actions,” he said.

Philadelphia officials signed on just before the deadline, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“While no dollar amount will bring back what we have lost, this settlement was negotiated to allocate funding to states and local communities who have been most impacted by this crisis,” Shapiro said. “And will provide more resources for treatment than any previous settlement.”

Funding from the deal could be delivered to communities as early as April, according to Shapiro’s office. It’s expected to support programs that prevent and treat opioid addiction as well as provide other support for those struggling with addiction.

Allegheny County is estimated to receive $90 million, according to the Attorney General's office.

Millions of dollars will also go to other southwestern Pennsylvania counties:

  • Westmoreland: $25.2 million
  • Washington: $13 million
  • Fayette: $10.4 million
  • Beaver: $10.2 million
  • Butler: $9.5 million
  • Indiana: $5.3 million
  • Armstrong: $4.7 million
  • Greene: $1.7 million

Funds are expected to be paid over 18 years.
Shapiro and the attorneys general of Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Texas led the negotiations of the multistate agreement.

Shapiro joined Zappala and Krasner Thursday in warning that this lawsuit would not be the last for the pharmaceutical industry's role in the opioid epidemic.

“Our work here is not done,” Shapiro said. “This settlement is only with three distributors and Johnson & Johnson. There are more companies and more executives who will pay for what was done in Pennsylvania.”