Florida to receive $1.6 billion in major opioid settlement
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida and 13 states have reached agreements worth a combined $26 billion with four companies over damage inflicted by the opioid crisis.
The money flowing to Florida will be used to stem the recent spike in overdoses during the pandemic. Florida will receive $1.6 billion over the next 17 1/2 years.
Attorney General Ashley Moody says the settlement is a victory for the state at time when 21 Floridians are dying a day from opiate overdose.
“COVID-19 has exacerbated our overdose rate in Florida,” said Moody.
In 2020, Florida saw a 37 percent spike in fatal overdoses, with more than 7,500 losing their lives.
The litigation targeted three opioid distributors including AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. Also included is opioid manufacturer and marketer Johnson & Johnson.
“And today’s announcement shows that they are willing to be held accountable. They know they need to provide redress to the states that are suffering,” said Moody.
As part of the settlement, the distributors will be subject to new overbite and accountability requirements.
Johnson & Johnson has also agreed to stop selling opioids for 10 years and is banned from lobbying activities related to the drugs, but the opioid crisis has grown beyond pharmaceutical pain medicines.
In recent years, black market opioids like fentanyl have largely taken their place as the leading killers.
“We have to be just as purposeful, directed, focused on our border that is out of control with the fentanyl flooding in and making sure that we’re holding the traffickers accountable in our communities. And we will continue to do that. It’s a multi-front fight: courtrooms, the streets and our border,” said Moody.
Even with the settlement, the state will continue its battle against Perdue Pharmaceuticals. It’s a battle which has been complicated by the company filing for bankruptcy.
This is the third major victory for Florida in the fight to make drug companies pay for their role in the opioid crisis. Earlier this year, Florida won a lawsuit against McKinsey & Company and in 2019 the state was part of a settlement against a British opioid manufacturer.
Combined all of the opioid settlements to date will bring $1.9 billion to the state.
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