ST. MICHAEL, MN — St. Michael is one of more than 200 local governments across Minnesota that have signed on to participate in a $26 billion nationwide settlement with an opioid manufacturer and distributors.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison joined the 11-figure settlement in July, with the state able to claim up to $296 million over 18 years as part of the agreements to end lawsuits against manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and the three major distributors in the U.S. — Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen.
“No amount of money will ever be enough to make up for the damage and destruction caused by these companies, but these historic agreements are at least a measure of accountability, if not justice,” Ellison said Dec. 8 in a letter to elected officials throughout Minnesota.
States had to sign onto the settlement agreement by mid-August, while local governments in participating states had until Jan. 2 to join.
St. Michael joined the settlements alongside Buffalo, Monticello, Otsego, Wright County and more than 200 other Minnesota cities and counties.
Tribal nations are negotiating separate settlements with Johnson & Johnson and the three distributors, according to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
Under the terms of the settlement, the three distributors must pay up to $21 billion over 18 years, according to Ellison’s office. Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years, with up to 75 percent of that to be paid during the first three years of the agreement.
Most of the money is earmarked for opioid treatment and prevention in states that joined the settlements.
Participating cities and counties could split up to $222 million of Minnesota’s settlement funds, with the state to spend the remaining money on opioid abatement, according to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
Almost 5,500 Minnesotans died from opioid overdoses from 2000 to 2020, according to the Department of Health.
Opioid-related deaths in Minnesota reached an all-time high — 678 — in 2020, a 59 percent increase from the 427 deaths recorded in 2019, public health data shows.