This page provides background regarding recently announced tentative national opioid settlements resulting from investigations by state attorneys general into three major opioid distributors and an opioid manufacturing and marketer. The settlements would resolve claims of both states and local governments across the country, including the nearly 4,000 that have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts.
Tragically, last year, drug overdose deaths rose to a record 93,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Arizona saw a 30 percent increase in overdose deaths over the prior year, with opioids claiming more than 2,600 lives in 2020. Countless more have seen their lives torn apart by the disease of addiction. The damage, which continues in part every day due to an insecure southern border, also impacts their families, friends and communities.
One Arizona Agreement
In August 2021, Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced that 90 cities and towns and all 15 counties are signed on to a framework called the One Arizona Memorandum of Understanding (One Arizona Plan) to expeditiously distribute funds across Arizona from national opioid settlements (national settlements outlined below). The agreement, once finalized, ensures that Arizona will receive the maximum amount of money available from future opioid settlements, including one under review with Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Johnson & Johnson.
The One Arizona Plan provides funding for programs to address and ameliorate opioid abuse, and includes reporting requirements for greater transparency of how money is used:
- 56% of the total settlement goes to local governments for opioid amelioration programs.
- 44% of the total settlement goes to a State fund for opioid amelioration programs.
- Funds must be spent in accordance with approved, nationally recognized strategies to pay for future costs incurred by the State and local governments to address the opioid epidemic. Transparent reporting requirements for fund usage to ensure compliance with approved purposes.
- Flexibility for local governments to pool resources to increase the impact of settlement funds.
Arizona was among the first states to reach a statewide agreement.
Important information for counties, cities, and towns: The Attorney General’s Office will send additional information to Arizona counties, cities, and towns regarding the updated and final One Arizona Plan in September 2021.
Johnson & Johnson and Distributors Settlements
In August 2021, Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced his office has conditionally signed on to a proposed $26 billion national settlement with Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids. Final details, including a critical mass of states and political subdivisions nationally, are necessary to finalize the settlement.
If finalized, Arizona as a whole would receive up to $549 million from the settlement and the money would be used for opioid treatment, prevention, and education, in compliance with the One Arizona Plan, described above. Read more on the One Arizona Plan.
- Nationally, the three distributors (Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen) collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years.
- Nationally, Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.
- The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall degree of participation by both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments.
- After attorneys’ fees and costs, the money is to be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.
- Arizona’s share of the national funding has been determined by an agreement among the states using a formula that takes into account the impact of the crisis on the state and the population of the state.
Injunctive Relief Overview:
- The 10-year agreement also requires Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen to:
- 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.
- Prohibit shipping of and report 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.
- The 10-year agreement requires Johnson & Johnson 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.
In order for the multistate settlement to be finalized, a critical mass of participating states and local governments will need to sign on.
The text of the full proposed Johnson & Johnson and Distributors’ settlements can be found on the settlement administrator’s website.
Important information for counties, cities, and towns: The national settlement administrator will mail additional information and voting instructions on the proposed Johnson & Johnson and Distributors settlements to Arizona counties, cities, and towns beginning the week of September 20, 2021.
Other AGO Opioids Actions
The proposed Johnson & Johnson and Distributors settlements are the latest actions that Attorney General Brnovich has taken to combat the opioid epidemic and hold bad actors accountable.
- AG Brnovich Reaches Settlement with two Arizona Doctors Regarding Insys Opioid Prescriptions
- $13 Million Settlement with McKinsey & Company for Role in ‘Turbocharging’ Opioid Epidemic
- $9.5 Million Settlement with Former VP of Sales for Insys
- AG Brnovich Files Consumer Fraud Lawsuit Against Insys
- AG Brnovich Obtains $2 Million from Former CEO of Opioid Manufacturer
- AGO Takes Action Against Purdue Pharma
- Former Cancer Center Employee Indicted and Accused of Opioid Prescription Fraud
- 11 Indicted in Opioid Ring
The AGO also offers a free opioid awareness and prevention program for the public. Additionally, the AGO offers training for faith leaders and law enforcement across Arizona on how to administer Narcan, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication. The faith leader training is part of a toolkit created by the AGO to help churches and places of worship better serve the needs of parishioners who are battling addiction.