Today, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh confirmed the State of Maryland and its local governments are set to receive approximately $395 million in opioid settlement funds from opioids manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and three major opioids distributors, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health, beginning in the second quarter of 2022.
In Maryland, 58 of its 60 qualifying subdivisions have elected to participate in the settlements, representing over 90 percent of the state population. This includes every county, except Baltimore City. Following county and municipal sign-on to the national settlements, the defendants will begin releasing funds to an administrator on April 2, 2022. Said funds will be spread over 18 years for the purposes of opioid crisis abatement.
Attorney General Frosh explained the significance of this announcement in a press release:
“The confirmation of the settlement brings us one step closer to the life-saving relief for the thousands of Marylanders who have been victimized by the opioids crisis,” said Attorney General Frosh. “This settlement will help fund critical programs that we desperately need to combat the disease of addiction.”
In addition to providing settlement payouts, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen will be required to:
- 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; and
- Require senior corporate officials to engage in regular oversight of anti-diversion efforts.
Johnson & Johnson will be required to:
- Stop selling opioids;
- Refrain from funding or providing grants to third parties for promoting opioids;
- Refrain from lobbying activity related to opioids; and
- Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project.