Opioid lawsuit settlements will bring up to $800k to Lewis County over the next 18 years

·2 min read

Sep. 19—LOWVILLE — Lewis County will get payouts for the next 18 years through a settlement in the lawsuit against various opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The county Board of Legislators voted in favor of two separate settlement agreements with defendants in the Purdue Pharma case still pending in state Supreme Court in Suffolk County, to avoid any additional litigation.

A number of defendants are named in the case including opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy chains.

The suit claims that these companies contributed to the opioid crisis by "falsely promoting" the opioids they made and sold through "front groups," as well as not meeting their obligation to "prevent diversion," or the illegal sale or use of the drugs. It further claims those actions ultimately led to the widespread addiction crisis that has manifested over the last 20 years.

Opioid manufacturers Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Janssen Pharmaceutica are expected to pay Lewis County between $62,578 and $146,042 over 10 years for "restitution."

New York state will get between $98.5 million and $229.8 million broken down into 10 annual payments from those companies.

"The big three" drug distributors — McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc. and Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation — and their affiliates, including PSS World Medical Inc.; Kinray, LLC; Bellco Drug Corporation; and American Medical Distributors Inc., signed a deal with the state in which they will pay more than $1 billion over 18 years in annual payments.

Lewis County's agreement with those companies will bring between $373,056 and $658,999 for the county to be paid over 18 years. The annual payments will be between $20,725 and $36,611.

Both agreements have been approved by the state Attorney General's Office.

County Attorney Joan McNichol said that under the settlement terms, the money is targeted for opioid-related uses. The funds may be used, for example, to reimburse the county for financial challenges created by the opioid addiction crisis, like paying for rehabilitation services and providing additional addiction mitigation services to help address the ongoing crisis in the community.

A federal bankruptcy judge on Sept. 1 conditionally approved a settlement that removed the Sackler family from ownership of Purdue Pharma, which produces OxyContin. Purdue Pharma had already filed for bankruptcy in September 2019. The new settlement would require the Sacklers to contribute up to $10 billion to victims to combat the opioid crisis. The Sacklers would also be released from any liability in the crisis, though they are not shielded from criminal charges.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an appeal to the bankruptcy deal.

The trial in the Suffolk County case began in late June with 12 defendants. There are now only three remaining: opioid manufacturers Allergen Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals and distributor Anda Inc.

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