In a monumental year for public health-related legal settlements, including last week’s nearly $700 million settlement with Monsanto over PCB contamination in Oregon, the Oregon Department of Justice has recently signed onto eight multi-state agreements with companies that either distributed, produced or sold opioids, bringing Oregon’s share up to $701.5 million to fund opioid abatement and recovery.
While the opioid settlements will mostly be paid out over several years, Oregon has already received more than $27 million this year, with the money going directly to Oregon counties, cities and other state-programs designed for treatment, recovery and prevention services. An additional $45.7 million is expected to be in Oregon’s hands by the end of February. Per an agreement between the state and local jurisdictions, with some exceptions, the state receives 45% of each settlement, and 55% from each settlement goes to Oregon cities and counties.
In 2022 alone, Oregon has agreed to opioid settlements with Allergan/Teva Pharmaceuticals, Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, CVS, Janssen (subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), Purdue Pharma, Walmart and Walgreens. Last year, Oregon also finalized an agreement with the consulting company that orchestrated the deceptive advertising of opioids—McKinsey & Co.
“As much as I’m pleased to bring home these big recoveries to our state,” AG Rosenblum said, “it’s a bittersweet feeling. We will never be able to bring back the many, many lives lost to substance use disorder, and, especially at the holidays, so many of their loved ones continue to grieve these losses. But these huge settlements show our commitment to fighting for justice on behalf of these families and so many others who so desperately need treatment and services. This money has already started to flow into Oregon, and will be used for treatment, education and prevention efforts. It is my hope that communities throughout the state will soon begin to feel the effects of this influx of funds,” Rosenblum added.
Where does the money go?
In 2022, the Oregon legislature created an Opioid Settlement Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Board (PTR Board), administered by the Oregon Health Authority and overseen by a board of health policy experts and state and local government representatives. The PTR Board, which includes as a member Sr. Assistant Attorney General David Hart, administers the state’s 45% share of funds that are to be used exclusively to address substance use disorder and invest in an evidence-based state system to collect, analyze and publish data about the efficacy of substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery services across the state. The additional 55% from each settlement goes to Oregon cities and counties and must also be used exclusively to address substance use disorder.
Allergan/Teva Pharmaceuticals: Oregon will get $99.4 million of the $6.6 billion national settlement ($69.8 million from Teva and $29.6 million from Allergan). The national settlements resolve allegations that Allergan/Teva illegally marketed their opioids and failed to maintain effective diversion controls.
Janssen (subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson): Oregon will get $62 million over 10 years, out of the $5 billion national settlement for Janssen’s role in manufacturing opioids. Oregon should receive the first installment of $13.7 million in January, with another $32 million due by February 2022.
Purdue Pharma: Oregon will get up to $97 million out of a $6 billion national settlement, pending final court approval. This includes an extra $34 million that Oregon will receive as one of nine states that objected to the original bankruptcy plan, $56 million from the original bankruptcy plan, and up to an additional $7 million depending upon the sale of certain assets.
Walmart: Oregon will get $37.1 million out of a $3.1 billion national settlement.
Walgreens: Oregon will receive up to $71 million out of a $5.7 billion national settlement.
CVS: Oregon will get $65 million out of a $5 billion national settlement.
All three pharmacy cases settled allegations that the pharmacies improperly dispensed excessive amounts of opioids despite red flags that the sales were not for legitimate medical needs. These pharmacy cases (and the Teva/Allergan settlements) must still be joined by a threshold number of state and local governments to become effective.
Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen: For their extensive role in fueling the opioid crisis, these three largest opioid distributors agreed to a $21 billion national settlement. Oregon has already received $25 million of its $270 million share, which will be paid over 18 years.
Previous Opioid-Related Settlements and Pending Litigation:
McKinsey & Company: Oregon led a multi-state group that settled with McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s largest consulting firms, for assisting opioid manufacturers in promoting opioids. In February 2021, the group, including Oregon, settled for $573 million, with Oregon receiving almost $8 million, which was deposited into the Measure 110 account to fund substance use disorder services.
Endo International: In 2016, Oregon opened an investigation into Endo, a pharmaceutical company that sold Opana, an extended-release opioid like OxyContin. Oregon sued Endo for aggressively promoting the drug, which is no longer on the market. In 2022, Endo filed for bankruptcy and against the Attorney General’s objection, Oregon’s lawsuit has been put on hold. Background on the lawsuit is here.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Senior Assistant Attorney General David Hart and his investigative team, led by health fraud analyst, Adria Decker, who relentlessly pursued these big pharma-related companies for years. Even when it looked like we could not beat the odds, they simply did not stop fighting and working these cases,” added AG Rosenblum. “Although we have a long way to go before we can say there’s no longer a crisis, the money flowing into Oregon is already starting to make a difference.”
The $698 million settlement reached last week with Monsanto is expected to be wired to Oregon by Monsanto or Bayer (the parent company) in a lump sum by the end of January, 2023. It will be used for clean-up and remediation of toxic chemical PCBs in sediment and waters throughout the state.