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Opioid Settlement Disbursement Process Begins

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West Virginia University
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A $400 million settlement with the Big Three pharmaceutical distributors is expected to help West Virginia in its fight against opioid abuse.

Now that the state has reached a $400 million settlement with the “Big Three” pharmaceutical distributors, the process of getting the money where it’s needed will begin as quickly as possible.

Monday, AmerisourceBergin, Cardinal Health and McKesson agreed to the settlement. Now, attorneys for the state are preparing to meet with representatives from more than 100 cities and counties across West Virginia to explain the terms of the settlement.

Of the $400 million, about 75 percent will go to the statewide program. Three percent will go to the Attorney General’s office for settlement related expenses with counties receiving the remaining amount for various abatement programs.

Those include preventative, treatment, and recovery services to help those struggling with opioid addiction.

For Fitzsimmons Law Firm attorney Mark Colantonio, there is still a lot of work to do.

“There's a lot of controls built in,” he said. “So it's not like people give money and go out and do things. It's going to be stuff that is vetted very well and stuff that is implemented in an effective way.”

The local government entities must first approve the agreement before the money can be distributed. The first payments are expected within 30-90 days of that approval process being completed.

A board comprised of representatives from affected local governments and the attorney general's office will decide how funds will be used to address specific needs in the different geographical regions impacted by the opioid crisis.

The six regions of the Department of Health and Human Resources are expected to be used as a blueprint to structure and implement services.

In a statement, AmerisourceBergen Vice President of Public Relations Lauren Esposito said:

“The years of legal actions leading up to this point have shown time and time again that pharmaceutical distributors must walk a legal and ethical tightrope between providing access to necessary medications and acting to prevent diversion of controlled substances.” 

Assistant News Director, cmacgregor@wvpublic.org

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