Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Friday, March 17, 2023 @ 1:58 p.m.

Del Norte Signs On To National Opioid Settlement Against Manufacturers, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart

Del Norte County officials expect to receive a payout as part of a multi-state settlement agreement with opioid manufacturers Teva and Allergan and pharmacies Walmart, Walgreens and CVS.

The Board of Supervisors voted to join in the settlements with the manufacturers and retailers, County Counsel Joel Campbell-Blair reported out of closed session Tuesday. But they’re not sure yet what that payout will look like.

“Because it’s so new, all the different settlements, the amount everybody is going to get is dependent upon the percentage of participation within the state,” Assistant County Counsel Jacqueline Roberts told the Wild Rivers Outpost on Thursday. “And the more (participants) that sign on to these settlements, the greater amount of money everybody will get. They want to incentivize people into signing the agreement and dropping their lawsuits individually.”

Del Norte County joined a consortium of about 40 other entities, including cities and counties, in California in the National Opioid Settlements. The consortium doesn’t have a name, but nearly all the participants were represented by Dallas-based law firm Baron & Budd, P.C., Roberts said.

When the national opioid litigation began in about 2017, several plaintiff’s law firms approached Del Norte County, officials chose to hire Baron & Budd due to its positive reputation, Roberts said.

Del Norte is also receiving a portion from the 2021 nationwide settlements against pharmaceutical distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen and manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, Roberts said.

“Just from those two (settlements) we’ve gotten a few hundred thousand dollars,” she said.

Roberts said she planned to make a presentation to the Board of Supervisors at an upcoming meeting.

In January, the pharmacy chains and opioid manufacturers announced that they would move forward with the settlements.

California cities and counties are able to join the proposed settlements with the three pharmacy chains and the two manufacturers by April 18, according to the state attorney general’s office. California is expected about $470 million from the settlement with CVS, the Los Angeles Times reported in January.

California is expected to receive more than $500 million from the Walgreens settlement, according to the Attorney General. The state is also eligible to receive $265 million from Walmart, according to the Attorney General.

Depending on the level of local government participation, CVS and Walgreens will each pay about $5 billion to settle lawsuits accusing them of filling prescriptions that should have been flagged as inappropriate, according to the LA Times.

Teva will pay up to $3.34 billion over 13 years and provide either $1.2 billion of its generic version of the drug Narcan over 10 years or $250 million in cash “as each state may elect,” according to the National Opioid Settlement’s website.

Allergan will pay up to $2.02 billion over seven years.

At least 85 percent of the dollars going to the states and governments participating in the settlements will be used to abate the effects of the opioid epidemic, according to National Opioid Settlement.

On Tuesday, during a discussion about Del Norte County’s public defense system, District 3 Supervisor Chris Howard asked staff to explore whether the county’s settlement allotment from the opioid litigation could be used to make it more robust.

“If we are going to really help treat this at its source, which is keeping these folks out of jail and diverting them away from jail, we need programs in place, which is exactly what those (dollars) are there to do,” Howard told the Outpost. “Whether it’s a felony or whether it’s a misdemeanor, we need public defenders to be fully staffed so they could help negotiate these types of programs with the courts.”

But, like Roberts, Howard said he and his colleagues aren’t yet sure what kind of payout Del Norte could receive. He also pointed out that it could be staggered over the course of 15 to 17 years.

“It really depends on the company that is being fined by the courts in this case, so we don’t know what that looks like yet,” Howard said.

As part of both settlement agreements, distributors will create a clearing house for their own shipments and the shipments of other distributors to detect, stop and report suspicious opioid orders.

J&J will not market or sell opioid products in the next 10 years and will stop lobbying on prescription opioid issues for 10 years. J&J stopped marketing opioids in 2015 and ceased selling opioids in 2020.

Teva and Allergan also agreed to limitations in how they market, promote, sell and distribute opioids.


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