Texas and some of its larger counties will receive $1.17 billion in opioid relief money as part of a nationwide settlement of three major pharmaceutical distribution companies, the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Wednesday.
The money comes from a $26 billion settlement signed by 52 US states and territories that Texas joined in July. Paxton lobbied for cities and counties to join the settlement with three drug companies — McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen — who have been accused of exacerbating the opioid crisis by neglecting the number of opioid pills people pharmacies have ordered over the past two decades.
Texas and the settlement entities will receive the money, which will go primarily to opioid overdose treatment, prevention and education, over the next 18 years. The agreement also includes a system that would track and report drug shipments between distributors.
“Companies have been sued for their role in creating and fueling the nationwide opioid epidemic,” Paxton said during a media event at LifePath Systems, a nonprofit based to McKinney who has more and more funds spent on addressing the fallout from the opioid crisis. “The opioid crisis across the country and in the state of Texas is staggering.”
The three drug companies, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment, denied wrongdoing in earlier statements.
“While the companies strongly dispute the allegations made in these lawsuits, they believe that the proposed settlement agreement and the settlement process it establishes…are important steps toward the large-scale resolution of government claims regarding the opioids and providing meaningful relief to communities across the United States,” the companies. said in a declaration after the announcement of the July agreement.
Nearly half a million people died from overdoses involving opioids from 1999 to 2019, US says Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention.
So far, Texas has secured more than $1.8 billion in opioid relief funds from various pharmaceutical companies, including $225 million from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries last week. In October, Paxton announced a $290 million settlement with pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson for its use of what the state called deceptive marketing tactics that contributed to the crisis.
To enter the $26 billion settlement, a county or city had to join the agreement by Jan. 26 and give up its ability to sue the companies individually. About 90% of local governments in the country that were eligible to participate in the agreement have signed it. The overall amount Texas received depended on the number of local entities that had joined the agreement. paxton encouraged cities and counties join.
Paxton said his office has worked extensively with county judges from Collin, Dallas, Bexar, Harris and Tarrant counties and attorneys general from states including California, Florida, Massachusetts and New York.
Bexar, Dallas and Harris county officials hailed the settlement, in prepared statements, as a pathway to address the impact of the opioid crisis within their communities, pointing to the highest number of 1, $8 billion that Texas got overall and also $75 million from Narcan, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses when given quickly.
“This is another step in holding companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis,” Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said in a statement. “Too many communities have suffered incredible losses, and this settlement helps us move forward towards recovery.”