HARRISBURG — Snyder, Union and Montour counties are among 50 counties in Pennsylvania that have agreed to join a historic opioid settlement that would bring more than $1 billion to Pennsylvania, with up to $232 million delivered in 2022, according to an announcement from state Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Wednesday.
The $26 billion global settlement with Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen — the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors — and Johnson & Johnson requires significant industry changes that will help prevent this type of crisis from happening again in addition to the funds. Pennsylvania has been one of the lead states in negotiating this settlement, which was announced in July.
Northumberland County is not yet part of the class action.
“The county retained outside counsel, the Cherundolo Law Firm, PLLC, to represent the county in the opioid litigation,” said Solicitor Frank Garrigan. “They are handling the settlement.”
Pennsylvania lost 5,172 lives to overdoses in the last year alone, which is 14 Pennsylvanians a day, said Shapiro.
“This settlement is going to provide resources to jumpstart programs that will change lives and impact families across our Commonwealth who are struggling to find treatment and help for those suffering with substance abuse. These funds will be earmarked to offer and expand life-saving treatment options, prioritizing the areas that have been most affected by this crisis,” he said.
While it is up to local governments who have signed on to the settlement to decide where the funds will ultimately be allocated, the settlement stipulates that every dollar of funding must be used to combat the opioid crisis. A list of approved opioid remediation uses can be found in Exhibit E of the Janssen settlement agreement. The remaining 17 counties and multiple subdivisions have until next month to sign on and are urged to do so as soon as possible, Shapiro said.
“Continuing litigation is incredibly risky, as we’ve seen in Oklahoma where a $465 million judgment was overturned by the state Supreme Court after being on appeal for years, and in California where a number of counties and cities lost their case after seven years in court,” Shapiro said. “We can’t afford to wait — we need these funds flowing into our communities now. We know no dollar amount will bring back all that we have lost, but this settlement will give communities the money to save lives now.”