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Missouri finalizes $458M deal in opioid crisis lawsuit

Attorney General Eric Schmitt says it's the biggest “victim-centric” settlement ever in the state.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri will get $458 million to help victims of the opioid epidemic as part of a settlement with the three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, the state attorney general announced Friday.

Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt said it’s the biggest “victim-centric” settlement ever in Missouri.

“Today we have the opportunity to right some of the wrongs caused by the greed and deception of the opioid manufacturers and distributors,” Schmitt said at a press conference in St. Louis. “Today is about getting some sort of justice for the victims and their families and helping those who need it most.”

Schmitt said the money likely will be spent on more beds at in-patient addiction centers and emergency medicine used to counteract opioid overdoses, among other addiction resources.

“For years, the State of Missouri has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic, entire communities and neighborhoods crushed under the weight of opioid addiction and abuse. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and more have been lost to this vicious cycle. This settlement won’t bring our loved ones back, it won’t provide any solace for those losses, but it can bring desperately needed resources to treatment centers, rehab facilities, law enforcement, and others who are on the frontlines of fighting this opioid epidemic in our state,” Schmitt said in a press release.

Missouri reached a tentative deal with Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson in July 2021. Schmitt's office has been working since then to get counties to sign on to the agreement so the state could get it's full share of the deal.

Attorney General's Office spokesman Chris Nuelle said $458 million is the maximum amount Missouri could have received under the deal.

The state of Missouri will get 60% of the settlement money and dole it out in grants to addiction treatment and prevention programs throughout the state, Schmitt said. The other 40% will go directly to cities and other municipalities.

The money represents Missouri’s share of a broader $26 billion deal between opioid makers and distributors and other state and local governments across the U.S. Lawyers for state and local governments reached the settlement after suing to force the pharmaceutical industry to help pay to fix a nationwide opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

These settlements will be paid out over a term of 18 years, on a graduated scale that pays larger sums in early years and decreases over time.

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