Marquette County to receive $1.9M opioid settlement

The state of Michigan will get around $800 million in settlement payouts from Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health.
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 7:11 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Michigan is set to receive money from the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies as restitution for their role in the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic has plagued the U.S. since the late 1990s. Provisional data from the CDC says 105,752 people across the country died from a drug overdose from October 2020 to October 2021.

Michigan accounts for close to 3% of this total. “Nearly 3,000 Michigan residents died from as a result of an opioid overdose in just the past year and that’s nearly double what we saw a decade ago,” (D) Attorney General of Michigan Dana Nessel said.

Last month, Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health offered to pay $26 billion dollars to states affected by opioids produced by J&J and distributed by the other three companies.

Now, Michigan will receive money from the second largest settlement in U.S. history behind only the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in 1998. “Michigan will receive nearly $800 million as part of a national settlement,” Nessel said.

Nessel adds that she has been pushing for litigation against pharmaceutical companies responsible for the opioid epidemic since taking office in 2019. “The national, historic agreement marks the culmination of three years of negotiations to resolve more than 4,000 claims of state and local governments across the country,” Nessel said.

The state is planning to give $1.9 million to Marquette County. Marquette County Chief Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Wiese says this money could make treatment more affordable for those struggling with addiction.

“I used to serve on the board of directors for the Great Lakes Center,” Wiese said. He continued, “It’s a non-profit treatment facility based in the Upper Peninsula and they have to do fundraising to fund treatment and so certainly this money will be well used.”

This is one of many ways the county can use the money to help combat the opioid crisis. Attorney General Nessel says she will continue to work with medical professionals to inform Marquette County of the best ways to spend it, should they choose to. “Just so it’s clear to everybody here in Marquette, you will have the ability any time at no cost to you to be able to consult with some of these experts,” Nessel said.

Nessel says Michigan still has $25 million unused from a 2019 settlement with a marketing company that worked closely with Purdue Pharma to market opioids. She adds Michigan is currently in talks with Purdue on another opioid settlement that could bring hundreds of millions of more dollars to fight the epidemic.

For now, Nessel says the $1.9 million allocated to Marquette County is a small step in the right direction.

The $26 billion will be paid out to states over an 18-year period beginning in April.

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