ANNAPOLIS — A proposed $26 billion settlement with opioid producers could bring as much as $485 million to Maryland to help address the opioid epidemic, the state’s attorney general announced Wednesday.

The settlement, which is not final, also would require reforms of industry practices, Attorney General Brian Frosh said.

“While this settlement cannot undo the harm suffered by millions of Americans who have been hurt by the opioid epidemic, it is a very important step forward,” Frosh, a Democrat, said in a statement. “We hope and anticipate that this proposed agreement will bring relief for many thousands of Maryland families who continue to suffer the devastating consequences of opioid addiction.”

Maryland and other states have been investigating allegations that the three largest opioid distributors in the nation and Johnson & Johnson, have engaged in a variety of illegal promotional activities while distributing many more drugs than warranted for legitimate medical purposes.

The settlement would resolve the claims of participating states and local governments across the country.

The deal calls for the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson to pay up to $5 billion, in addition to billions more from the major national drug distribution companies. AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health are each to contribute $6.4 billion. McKesson is to pay $7.9 billion.

States — except West Virginia, which has already settled with the companies — will have 30 days to approve the agreements. After that, local governments will have four months to sign on. Each company will decide whether enough jurisdictions agree to the deal to move ahead with it.

Last year, opioid overdose deaths rose to a record 93,000 across the country, a nearly 30% increase over the prior year.

In Maryland, on average, more than six residents die from opioids overdoses each day, the attorney general’s office said. Last year, 2,518 Marylanders died from overdoses. From 2007 to 2019, more than 17,000 Marylanders died from opioid overdoses.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

(1) comment


Go after the illegal drugs brought in from other countries. As it has all along, this is driven by families who have lose a family member(s). I understand the thinking, as two members of my family overdosed and died. Needless to say, it is devastating and sad on many levels. However, these legislators lose sight of the fact that there is a legitimate medical use for responsible (and necessary) pain relief. I hope that these people don't have an occasion where they need major pain relief only to be told by some perky nurse/doctor, "oh, sorry, we can't give you anything due to the opioid crisis."

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