HENDERSON – City council members signaled this week that they intend to have Henderson’s administration participate in pending court settlements with four companies that they and other US political leaders believe are largely responsible for the opioid addiction crisis.
The council vote empowered City Manager Terrell Blackmon and City Attorney Rix Edwards to “represent the city in all proceedings and secure all direct payments” that Henderson is due under the framework that North Carolina and at least 44 other states have to settle the Use $ 26 Billion Litigation.
But with the use of the word “intent”, councilors were a bit reluctant to actually approve the interstate “Memorandum of Understanding,” which governs the distribution of settlement proceeds, or actually approve a settlement that would give the city the right to sue would cancel the companies involved.
The clock is ticking for governments across the country to do both, as NC Attorney General Josh Stein’s office says they have until Jan. 2 to sign the settlement.
To date, 87 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have approved the MoU, with Vance, Granville and Warren counties joining the majority on this point.
Vance County’s commissioners insisted that they approved the memorandum.
And by Tuesday, 88 of the eleven counties had signed the actual settlement papers waiving any future right to sue drug dealers McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen and drug maker Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
There are districts that have agreed to the distribution formula without still signing the settlement, and districts that have signed the settlement without having agreed to the distribution of the settlement proceeds.
Vance County officials have signed the settlement, but Granville and Warren counties are yet to follow.
Granville officials “intend to submit all forms to sign the settlement before the required deadline,” said county spokesman Terry Hobgood. He added that “the necessary forms are still being prepared for submission by the District Attorney,” Jim Wrenn.
The distribution memo shows that approximately $ 22.7 billion of the proceeds of the settlement will go to state and local governments to help them fight the opioid epidemic in their communities.
Large and medium-sized cities are also eligible, but on Wednesday Warrenton was the only one in the region to sign up to the letter of intent. It has not yet signed the settlement.
The proposed settlement – which brings a number of lawsuits under one roof – comes from the conviction of state and local officials in the US that drug companies fueled the opioid crisis by aggressively and negligently marketing prescription pain relievers, which were more addicting than many users thought .
The best known of these, OxyContin, is ironically the product of a company, Purdue Pharma, which is not one of the companies involved in this settlement agreement. This company went bankrupt to protect itself from legal proceedings and has agreed to a package to resolve the matter that could be valued at up to $ 10 billion.