All of the required Virginia localities and stakeholders have agreed to the $26 billion settlement framework that Attorney General Mark R. Herring and his colleagues negotiated against opioid distributors and Johnson & Johnson.
Because of this 100 percent commitment, the Commonwealth of Virginia will receive the maximum amount of money available to state and local governments as quickly as possible, Herring said in a release announcing the agreement.
The Commonwealth’s share is expected to be approximately $530 million for state and local governments, though the total would have been significantly reduced and the timeframe extended if even one locality had opted-out of the framework. Virginia is one of the first states to secure 100 percent voluntary participation from local stakeholders, and the majority of the funds will be deposited into the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority to fund opioid abuse prevention, education, treatment, and recovery efforts.
“This is really great news for the Commonwealth because it means we’re going to have the most money possible—hundreds of millions of dollars—available as quickly as possible to support substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery. It will, without a doubt, be the biggest investment in treatment and recovery in the history of the Commonwealth,” said Herring. “We know there is a huge need for treatment and recovery services, which is why we worked so hard to secure buy-in from localities, and why we created the Opioid Abatement Authority to handle the Commonwealth’s share of any recovered funds. While no dollar amount will ever bring back the loved ones lost, we’re still going to get every dollar we can from the big pharmaceutical companies that helped create and prolong this crisis because we want them to be held accountable for their actions and we want them to help pay the cost of fixing the problem they created.
“I really appreciate the partnership, hard work, and commitment of our partners in this endeavor, including the local governments, their attorneys, and Senator Pillion and the members of the Opioid Abatement Authority. Because of our shared commitment, we’re going to make an historic investment in the health and well-being of our people,” he added.
In July 2021, Herring helped secure a $26 billion settlement from opioid distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal, and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The amount available to the Commonwealth and its localities is expected to total approximately $530 million with the majority of the Commonwealth’s share going into the Opioid Abatement Authority created by Attorney General Herring to ensure the money is used to support treatment and prevention.
Under the terms of the settlement, states’ shares were based on the percentage of qualifying localities who agreed to participate in the settlement. Some provisions of the settlement meant that the amount of recoverable money could have been cut by nearly half if only 10% of the localities opted out. After months of hard work, 133 cities and counties, ten towns, eleven school districts, three hospital authorities, and one sheriff’s office have all agreed to participate, meaning that the Commonwealth will get every dollar available to it, and a significant portion of J&J’s payment will be made in one upfront payment rather than spread over four years.
The opioid crisis has been one of Herring’s top priorities, and as part of this work he has focused on accountability for pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors who helped create, prolong, and profit from the opioid crisis in Virginia and around the country. Herring has filed suit against Purdue Pharma; the Sackler Family, owners of Purdue Pharma; and Teva/Cephalon for the alleged roles they played in creating the opioid epidemic. Additional multistate investigations and legal actions remain ongoing.