Contact: Lauren Jandl, Asst. Director of Communications, 802-828-3171
Attorney General T.J. Donovan today announced the final approval of the $26 billion opioid agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – and Johnson & Johnson. Following successful state sign-on and subdivision sign-on periods, the distributors will start releasing funds to a national administrator on April 2, 2022. Vermont will receive approximately $64 million from the agreement.
“No amount of money can ever make up for the lives impacted by the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Donovan. “My hope is that these funds are used to invest in treatment and recovery services for those who suffer from substance use disorder and to provide prevention for the next generation.”
The Attorney General’s Office has been fighting to hold industry accountable for its role in promoting and profiting from the opioid crisis since 2017 when the Office began investigating opioid manufacturers and distributors. Since then, the Attorney General has sued Cardinal and McKesson—the two largest pharmaceutical distributors in Vermont—as well as OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma and its owners the Sackler family.
Today’s settlement agreement, which was anticipated in July 2021 and finalized today, resolves the Attorney General’s lawsuits against Cardinal and McKesson, and includes AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson. The agreement marks the culmination of three years of negotiations to resolve more than 4,000 claims of state and local governments across the country. It is the second-largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, second only to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Fifty-two states and territories have signed on to the agreement as well as thousands of local governments across the country. In Vermont, 12 counties and more than 60 municipalities have signed on to the agreement.
In addition to the funds, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen will:
- Establish a centralized, independent clearinghouse to provide all three distributors and state regulators with aggregated data and analytics about where drugs are going and how often, eliminating blind spots in the current systems used by distributors.
- Use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies.
- Terminate customer pharmacies’ ability to receive shipments and report those companies to state regulators when they show certain signs of diversion.
- Report and prohibit shipping of suspicious opioid orders.
- Prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders.
- Require senior corporate officials to engage in regular oversight of anti-diversion efforts.
Johnson & Johnson is required to:
- Stop selling opioids.
- Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids.
- Not lobby on activities related to opioids.
- Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.
Additional information about opioid settlements is available on the Attorney General’s Office’s website: ago.vermont.gov/about-the-attorney-generals-office/divisions/consumer-protection/information-and-resources-consumers-and-business/health-and-product-safety/opioid-settlement.