Virginia is expected to receive more than half a billion dollars from opioid distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal, and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson as a result of Attorney General Mark Herring’s multiyear investigation into the role opioid manufacturers and distributors played in creating and prolonging the opioid crisis in Virginia and across the country. In total, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal, along with Johnson & Johnson will pay an unprecedented $26 billion that will go towards prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in communities across the country. A majority of the up to approximately $530 million that Virginia is expected to receive will go towards the Commonwealth’s opioid abatement authority. Additionally, the distributors have agreed to establish an independent clearinghouse that will track and monitor the number of opioids distributors send to healthcare providers and localities.
“The roots of the opioid crisis began in the marketing offices and board rooms of pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson and ran straight into the homes and medicine cabinets of Virginians. Distributors like McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal spread billions of doses of highly addictive opioids throughout our communities, helping to fuel a crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and upended the lives of Virginians in every corner of our Commonwealth,” said Herring. “No dollar amount will ever be able to bring back the Virginians we have lost to this devastating epidemic, but we can at least dedicate our time and resources to preventing further loss through prevention, treatment, and recovery. Throughout my time as attorney general, one of my top priorities has been to go after the pharmaceutical and marketing companies that created and prolonged the deadly opioid crisis, and I will not stop until all those involved are held accountable.”
McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal will pay up to $21 billion over an 18-year period to the participating states and localities, with Virginia expected to receive up to $427 million as its share of the agreement. Additionally, the distributors will establish an independent clearinghouse that will monitor and track the number of opioids distributors are sending to healthcare providers, to ensure that they are not sending more than the appropriate number to any certain area or provider. An independent, third-party monitor will ensure that each distributor is complying with the terms of the proposed agreement.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen will:
*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.
Johnson & Johnson
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over a nine-year period with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years. Virginia is expected to receive up to approximately $100 million as its share of the agreement. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson will:
*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.
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. In addition to filing suit against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family, Herring has also filed suit against and Teva/Cephalon for the role that they played in creating the opioid epidemic. In February, he secured a settlement with McKinsey & Company for its role working for opioid companies, helping companies promote their drugs, and profiting from the opioid epidemic. Additional multistate investigations and legal actions remain ongoing.
During the most recent General Assembly Session, Herring was successful in passing legislation that directs funds secured through his ongoing lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors toward opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery, ensuring that the most money possible goes to actually address the opioid crisis.