Four U.S. corporations have agreed to pay $26 billion to settle a tsunami of lawsuits filed by Illinois and thousands of local governments claiming they helped fuel the deadly opioid crisis.
It is the second-largest multi-state agreement in the country’s history behind only the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in 1998.
Illinois will get $760 million in the settlement, with a majority of the money going towards programs to fight opioid addiction around the state.
An advisory board will be established as a subcommittee of the state’s Opioid Overdose Prevention and Recovery Steering Committee to make recommendations that prioritize the distribution of the money in the fund.
The board will consider factors including population, opioid usage rates, overdose deaths and the number of opioids delivered into a region.
“This epidemic has no boundaries,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin said. “It has affected every community in the state of Illinois, and it’s not just the families of the victims. Entire communities have felt the repercussions of the opioid crisis.”
In total, more than 290 Illinois governmental bodies have joined the settlement, including 94 of the state’s 102 counties.
Initial payments will begin in April and will continue over the next two decades.
The money will arrive at a moment when the opioid epidemic has escalated. Many Americans with opioid use disorder have gone from taking prescription pain pills to illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is more powerful and oftentimes more deadly.
Nearly 3,000 Illinoisans died in 2020 from opioid overdoses, and it is estimated 500,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses over the last two decades.
Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson did not admit to any wrongdoing for their role in manufacturing and distributing large quantities of pain medications.
This article was originally posted on Illinois to get $760 million of $26 billion opioid settlement