Wisconsin to join $26 billion settlement against opioid maker, distributors for roles in crisis

Wisconsin alone could receive at least $400 million under the settlement agreements
Dea: Companies Had ‘systematic Failure’ In Monitoring Pills
(Associated Press photo)

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) – Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced Wednesday that he plans to join settlement agreements totaling $26 billion with Janssen and three distributors of the opioid painkillers that company manufactured and marketed.

The settlement agreements, approved last month amid accusations that the companies fueled the U.S. opioid addiction crisis, have been circulated among states and local governments.
Janssen includes Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Ortho-McNeil-Jansen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc., while the distributors are Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen.

The proposed pacts would require significant industry changes intended to ensure that such a crisis never will happen again. They also would resolve investigations and litigation over the companies’ roles in instigating and inflaming the opioid epidemic.

Depending on the number of states and local governments that join the deal, Wisconsin could receive at least an estimated $400 million that the state would use to help individuals struggling with addiction.

The states have a deadline of Aug. 21 to indicate whether they intend to join, and local governments have an additional 120 days to reveal their inclination. States and local governments will receive maximum payments if each state and its local jurisdictions enter the agreement.

“To fight the opioid crisis as effectively as possible, our communities need resources to support critical treatment and prevention programs,” Kaul said. “Moving forward with this agreement will bring hundreds of millions of dollars to Wisconsin communities, significantly enhancing communities’ ability to take action to fight the opioid epidemic and making our communities safer.”

In March 2019, Kaul joined a multistate investigation into the business practices of opioid distributors. For more than two years, Wisconsin assistant attorneys general have collaborated with those in other states to investigate the distributors and their role in fanning the opioid epidemic.

More information about the proposed settlement agreements is on the state Department of Justice website.