Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum secured $1.4 billion in settlements in 2022

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum reported a record-breaking $1.4 billion in legal settlements for the state. The settlements came from pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, drug distribution companies, a consulting firm and an agricultural chemical and biotechnology corporation.

Oregon is part of eight multi-state agreements seeking to hold manufactures, distributors, sellers and promoters of opioids accountable for addiction, and have them foot the bill for recovery programs.

“These huge settlements show our commitment to fighting for justice on behalf of these families and so many others who so desperately need treatment and services,” Rosenblum said.

For the most part, state and local jurisdictions in Oregon have agreed to split the amounts of each settlement, with 45% going to the state and 55% allocated to Oregon’s cities and counties.

The funds will be used exclusively for prevention, treatment and recovery programs, and the collection and analysis of data on the effectiveness of the programs. The settlement agreement specifies that monies be used for: prevention programs, Naloxone distribution and education, syringe services, treatment and services for postpartum women, medication-assisted treatment, services for the incarcerated, neonatal treatment, transfer of care of patients and communication with families, and leadership, planning and coordination of services.

In March 2022, Oregon reached a settlement with McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health, the three largest opioid distributors for $270 million to be paid out over 18 years. The state has received $25 million so far this year. Oregon also settled with Janssen, an opioid manufacturer, for $62 million over 10 years, in March. They will collect their first installment of $13.7 million in January 2023.

Allergan/Teva Pharmaceuticals will pay $99.4 million of a $6.6 billion national settlement to Oregon in resolution of allegations of failure to maintain diversion controls and the illegal marketing of their opioids.

Walmart, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies all settled allegations for failure to oversee the proper dispensing of opioids. If a threshold number of states and local governments sign on to the billion dollar national agreements by the end of this year, Oregon stands to receive $37.1 million from Walmart, $71 million from Walgreens and $65 million from CVS, with initial payments beginning in the second half of 2023.

“Pharmacies were a key link in the supply chain and contributed to the greatest drug-induced public health crisis in modern America. This may seem like a lot of money - and it is - but compared to the harm caused by America’s largest pharmacy chains, it barely scratches the surface,” said Rosenblum.

The largest settlement achieved by the state this year was a $698 million agreement with Monsanto Company, surpassing last year’s national settlement of $573 million with McKinsey & Company, one of the largest consulting firms on the planet that gave advice on promoting opioids to the drug manufacturers, and set out the plan to have doctors prescribe more pills that resulted in addiction in many patients. Oregon’s portion of that settlement was $7.8 million.

The history-making settlement with Monsanto held the company responsible for over 90 years of the toxic pollution of Oregon through their manufacture and promotion of PCBs. These highly contaminating compounds, the lawsuit claimed, did extensive damage to Oregon and are extremely difficult to clean up.

Rosenblum will have to wait until next year to collect on the $97 million due to Oregon, in the Purdue Pharma settlement. That case is pending final court approval. The settlement includes some of the harshest measures against the Sackler family for their role in the unlawful promotion of OxyContin.

The state’s share of all settlements will go into a Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Fund within the newly created Opioid Settlement Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Board (PTR Board) created by the Oregon legislature and executed by the Oregon Health Authority. The other 55% of settlement funds will go directly to Oregon’s cities and counties to be disbursed for drug addiction recovery schemes.

“As much as I’m pleased to bring home these big recoveries to our state, it’s a bittersweet feeling. We will never be able to bring back the many, many lives lost to substance use disorder,” Rosenblum stated.

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