Money from Washington AG’s $518M opioid settlement to begin flowing Dec. 1 | National News

(The Center Square) – Washington state will begin receiving payments later this year on a $518 million settlement with three legal opioid distributors, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said on Monday morning. More than $476 million from the settlement must be used to fight the opioid epidemic.

One hundred twenty-five government jurisdictions – 37 that filed suit, as well as 88 that did not file a lawsuit, but have a population of more than 10,000 – joined the resolution, stemming from Ferguson’s 2019 lawsuit in King County Superior Court against the three pharmaceutical companies for failing to stop suspicious opioids shipments from coming into Washington.

The three companies – McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. – also failed to report the shipments, according to Ferguson’s lawsuit.

After rejecting a national settlement, Ferguson went to trial, which lasted six months and ended with a resolution requiring the three Fortune 15 companies to pay a total of $518 million, which was $46 million more than Washington would have received under the national settlement.

“And the good news is that starting on Dec. 1, nearly half a billion dollars will begin flowing to communities all across our state,” Ferguson said at press conference from Kerry Park in Seattle. “These significant resources will help Washington state fight back against the opioid epidemic that continues – even as we speak – that continues to rip holes through the very fabric of our communities and of families, overwhelm our public health resources and inundate our foster care system with young, innocent victims.”

Local governments will receive a total of $215 million, Ferguson said, to go toward cities and counties helping people in crisis.

Local jurisdictions divided up the money themselves using a formula that included opioid shipments to the communities, how many people have died from opioids, and how many people are currently suffering from opioid use disorder, Ferguson explained.

The five counties, including their local governments, receiving the most money include King County ($56 million), Pierce County ($25.9 million), Snohomish County ($25.4 million), Spokane County ($19.1 million), and Clark County ($14.6 million).

In a little less than two months, the first and largest payment – $55 million – will be received, with $37 million going to the state, and $18 million going to local governments.

All spending decisions must be consistent with the state Opioid Response and Overdose Response Plana comprehensive strategy to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with opioids.

The settlement has special meaning beyond the money for state Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, who was at the press conference.

“And I am grateful that over $7 million of this settlement will be appropriated to Kitsap County,” she said. “But the opioid epidemic has impacted countless families all across Washington. I know this very personally, as the first formerly incarcerated legislator in our state, and person who just celebrated 11 years of recovery from opioid use disorder three days ago.”

In 2011, Simmons was sentenced to 20 months in prison following an arrest for delivery of Oxycodone, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

“This funding that AG Ferguson and his team have secured for the people and families of Washington will go a long way in preventing and combating substance use disorder at a time where fentanyl is taking the lives of so many of our loved ones,” she said .

Washington’s battle against the opioid epidemic continues in the form of additional litigation.

In March, Ferguson announced Washington will receive $183 million in a settlement with Purdue Pharmawhich is $113 million more than Washington would have received under the original bankruptcy plan.

Washington also south opioid manufacturer Johnson&Johnson in another case in which Ferguson declined to settle last year. That case is expected to go to trial in September 2023, Ferguson said.