FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s nearly half-billion-dollar share of statewide settlements with four companies over its role in the opioid addiction crisis will help heal communities “devastated by this poison,” Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Friday .
Kentucky will receive $483 million from settlements reached with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three major distributors, the Republican attorney general announced. The state’s legal battle dates back to when Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear was Attorney General.
“Although today marks the end of negotiations, it is just the beginning of our healing,” Cameron said.
The bluegrass state created the framework for distributing its share of the settlement money.
Under a measure enacted by the Kentucky legislature last year, half of the state’s settlement proceeds will be distributed to local governments. The state receives the other half.
Kentucky’s Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission is tasked with overseeing state allocation and plans to establish an application process so abatement programs can apply for funding.
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“It’s time to put this epidemic behind us,” Cameron said at a news conference. “It’s time to get real dollars in the door to heal our communities that have been ravaged by this poison.”
The attorney general said settlement funds are expected to flow to state and local governments in the second quarter of this year, which begins in April. Payments will be spread over 18 years, he said.
“This funding cannot come fast enough and we will continue to work closely with legislators and local governments to ensure the funds go to programs that break the cycle of addiction and help heal our communities,” Cameron said .
A state report last year showed that fatal drug overdoses in Kentucky rose nearly 50% in 2020, slightly dwarfing the state’s previous record. The rising death toll in Kentucky was caused by opioid abuse. A key factor is the prevalence of fentanyl, the report said. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is increasingly being added to other illicit drugs to increase potency.
Friday’s announcement that the statewide settlements have been completed will pave the way for $26 billion flowing to states and local governments across the United States. Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson announced the settlement plan last year, but the deal was conditional on receiving involvement of a critical mass of state and local governments.
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