NJ Secures $1 Billion in Nationwide Opioid Settlements
Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced that all 21 counties and 241 municipalities in New Jersey have joined the State in signing onto the nationwide settlement agreements with pharmacy chains CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, and drug makers Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan. The agreements aim to resolve claims involving their alleged roles in fueling the country's opioid crisis.
With 100% participation, New Jersey and its eligible counties and municipalities are set to receive the maximum amount available under the settlements, approximately $508.1 million. If approved, the settlements would bring the total opioid settlement funds secured for New Jersey by the Murphy Administration to over $1 billion.
Governor Murphy highlighted the importance of the settlements, stating that while it cannot bring back lost lives, it will provide resources for programs and initiatives that save lives. Attorney General Platkin expressed gratitude to the counties and municipalities for their collaboration, emphasizing that the funding will support prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman also acknowledged the significance of the settlement funds in supporting prevention efforts and expanding access to care, treatment, and recovery programs for those struggling with substance use disorder.
The settlements with the pharmacy chains resolve allegations that they helped fuel the opioid epidemic by ignoring red flags that prescriptions were being diverted into illegal trafficking. In addition to the financial settlements, the pharmacies have agreed to court-ordered injunctive relief that requires them to monitor, report, and share data about suspicious activity related to opioid prescriptions.
The settlements with Teva and Allergan resolve allegations that the drug makers helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic by overstating the painkillers' benefits, downplaying the risk of addiction, and failing to maintain controls to prevent opioid misuse.
The opioid abatement funds New Jersey stands to receive from all five settlements will be split 50/50 between the State and its eligible subdivisions. The funds will be used to support programs focused on treatment, prevention, and other strategies to combat the opioid epidemic in the State.
The settlements announced today are the latest in a series of nationwide claims against drug makers and pharmacies for their alleged roles in the opioid addiction epidemic.
In February 2022, the Attorney General's Office announced that New Jersey would receive $641 million from settlements with opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and the country's three largest pharmaceutical distributors—McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen. This funding will be paid through 2038, concentrating on treatment, prevention, and other strategies to combat the opioid epidemic in the State.
In August, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order No. 305, which established an Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund Advisory Council. Chaired by Commissioner of the Department of Human Services Sarah Adelman, the council is composed of the Attorney General and the Commissioners of the Departments of Health and Children and Families, along with relevant stakeholders, who will provide input, advice, and recommendations on the disbursement of opioid settlement funds awarded to the State. The Advisory Council was codified into law through legislation signed by the Governor in March.
The Executive Order and statute also formally designate the Department of Human Services as the lead agency for directing the use of funds received by the State from national opioid litigation resolutions and performing the State's reporting, public disclosure, and other compliance obligations under the settlements.
The state has solicited funding recommendations through an online portal, and the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund Advisory Council will host a series of public listening sessions starting on May 4. For more information, please visit https://www.nj.gov/opioidfunds/.
Assistant Attorney General Lara Fogel and Deputy Attorney General Brian DeVito of the Division of Law's Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, under the supervision of Deputy Director Jason W. Rockwell, handled the CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Teva, and Allergan matters on behalf of the State.