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Washington State News

Opioid distributors to pay $518 million to Washington state

SEATTLE — Six months after taking the three largest distributors of prescription opioids to trial, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a resolution-in-principle that will deliver approximately a half-billion dollars to Washington to combat the opioid epidemic.

The Washington Attorney General’s trial against McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. began in King County Superior Court on November 15 — more than two years after Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the three large corporations for helping to fuel the opioid epidemic.

As a result of today’s announced resolution, these three opioid distributors will pay a total of $518 million. More than $476 million will be directed toward addressing the opioid epidemic.  

Ferguson rejected a national settlement between the three opioid distributors in order to take these entities to trial. Ferguson’s decision will result in Washington receiving $46 million in additional resources from the distributors to provide substance abuse treatment and support other strategies to address the opioid crisis, including housing and other wrap-around services.

“We could have joined the overwhelming majority of states and settled with the the largest opioid distributors, but we chose to fight them in court instead,” Ferguson said. “That decision to take them to court will result in significant additional resources for Washington to combat the opioid epidemic. These resources will increase prevention efforts and help Washingtonians in need, including providing necessary wrap-around services for those experiencing homelessness as a result of their substance abuse disorder. This is a historic resolution — one of the largest in state history. We forced these companies to stand trial for their conduct. Washingtonians will receive approximately one half billion dollars to combat the opioid epidemic — including $46 million more than Washington would have received if we had accepted the national settlement last year.”

This is part of a wider effort by Ferguson to combat the opioid epidemic and recover resources to address the ongoing crisis.

It is the second time Ferguson’s rejection of a national settlement led to a better deal for Washingtonians. In March, Ferguson announced that Washington will receive $183 million to address the opioid crisis as a result of his office successfully leading the challenge to the Purdue bankruptcy plan — $113 million more than Washington would have received under the original deal.

As part of his strategy of rejecting national settlements and choosing to litigate, Ferguson also declined to settle with Johnson & Johnson last year.  The Washington Attorney General’s Office has a trial scheduled against opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson in September. Ferguson’s legal team is conducting multiple ongoing investigations into conduct by other entities that helped fuel the epidemic.

In recent years, the Washington Attorney General’s Office has recovered a total of $714.5 million from opioid litigation. This total includes $183 million in recoveries from Purdue Pharma and $13.5 million from McKinsey to address harms from the opioid crisis.