Opioid Lawsuit Windfall Would Assist Pay For Dependancy Assist In New York

Opioid-based pain relievers include Vicodin, Percocet, and Oxycontin. Photo: Be.Futureproof, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

By JOE MAHONEY, CNHI State Reporter

ALBANY – New York is projected to generate more than $ 1 billion in potential total revenue from ongoing litigation involving drug companies responsible for the wave of deaths and addictions associated with the opioid epidemic.

A bill passed unanimously by both houses of the Legislature would create a “locker” fund for all settlement funds paid out by pharmaceutical companies on trial on Long Island. The case is litigation brought by Attorney General Letitia James and the Suffolk and Nassau Governments.

The idea of ​​putting the money in a special fund, rather than the state’s general fund, was supported by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) and several advocates of addiction counseling providers. The fund is to be set up to ensure that settlement funds are used for prevention, intervention and treatment services.

Stephen J. Acquario, executive director of NYSAC, told CNHI that optimism about a resolution to the dispute is growing as companies want the money to go to addiction-related services rather than the state’s general fund. In the latter case, it could be spent on purposes unrelated to the effects of addiction.

If the legislation calling for the creation of the locker is approved by Governor Andew Cuomo, it will make it easier for the parties to reach an agreement. The process that emerges from the lawsuit is set to begin June 22 in Suffolk County, Acquario said.

“The likelihood of reaching an agreement will decrease if this law is not approved,” said Acquario.

He credits James and Cuomo for setting the stage for the pharmaceutical industry to pay the human toll of the opioid crisis.

The number of deaths from overdose rose in the first few months of the pandemic last year, according to federal data. An estimated 88,000 people in the United States were overdosed in the one year ended August 30th.

The rise in overdose deaths underscores the need to expand and improve drug treatment services, said Tracie Gardner, vice president of public order at the Legal Action Center. The establishment of the Fund to Promote Reconstruction and Intervention Efforts would be carried out with no money already being replaced for such efforts, she said.

The Suffolk County process is billed as one of the most comprehensive cases to date, affecting a large part of the opioid supply chain.

Defendants in the case include Johnson & Johnson, McKesson Corp., Teva, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Allergan Finance Inc.

Related cases against Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt and Rochester Drug Cooperative are all now in US bankruptcy court, officials said.

In a statement, James described the new legislation passed in Albany as a “big step” in responding to the wave of opioid overdoses.

“While no amount of money will ever compensate for the thousands who lost their lives or became addicted to opioids in our state, or comfort the countless families torn apart by this crisis, this bill ensures that funds are used to help future ones Prevent devastation. “Said the Attorney General.

The Suffolk County case is one of numerous lawsuits filed by states and municipalities across the country in response to the opioid epidemic.

McKesson says it has educated pharmacies and hospitals that it supplies pharmaceutical products to of the importance of complying with U.S. Drug Administration regulations. McKesson also notes that it donated $ 100 million to the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting the opioid crisis.

Acquario said the New York fund would prevent settlement funds from going the same route as money states received from a 1998 settlement with Big Tobacco. This money went to the state government’s general fund instead of being used for specific public health programs.

He said Suffolk County was the first New York county to initiate a lawsuit related to the opioid epidemic, and since then “the vast majority” of New York governments have followed suit.

Senate Health Committee chairman Senator Gustavo Rivera, D-the Bronx, said a secure settlement fund will pave the way to bolster addiction programs that “provide a lifeline to so many New Yorkers who are on the difficult and difficult side.” find your way around a complex journey “. that is a substance use disorder. “

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