Opioid distributors to settle with Washington state for $518 million, Attorney General says

Ted S. Warren - staff, AP

FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2019, photo, Jon Combes holds his bottle of buprenorphine, a medicine that prevents withdrawal sickness in people trying to stop using opiates, as he prepares to take a dose in a clinic in Olympia, Wash. The U.S. Department of Justice made clear, Tuesday, April 2, 2022, that barring the use of medication treatment for opioid abuse is a violation of federal law.

SEATTLE, Wash. — Following a months-long saga between the nation’s largest prescription opioid distributors and Washington, the Attorney General has announced that the three corporations will pay the state $518 million for their role in the ongoing epidemic.

According to an announcement by the Office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson, state officials rejected a national settlement and took the distributors to trial for an additional $46 million in resources to address the opioid epidemic.

The trial process was launched against McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. on November 15, 2021, in King County Superior Court. Ferguson’s claim was that the three corporations played a pivotal role in fueling the rampant opioid epidemic in this state.

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“We could have joined the overwhelming majority of states and settled with the largest opioid distributors, but we chose to fight them in court instead,” Ferguson said. “That decision to take them to court will result in significant additional resources for Washington to combat the opioid epidemic.”

Of the total sum, more than $476 million will be directed toward addressing the opioid epidemic. State leaders intend to apply these funds by providing substance abuse treatment for those in need, developing support strategies for addicts, and addressing the housing issue directly resulting from opioid addiction.

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“These resources will increase prevention efforts and help Washingtonians in need, including providing necessary wrap-around services for those experiencing homelessness as a result of their substance abuse disorder,” Ferguson explained.

Opioid litigation spearheaded by the Washington Attorney General’s Office has resulted in $714.5 million over the last few years.


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