Opioid settlement nets Minnesota more than $300 million over 18 years

As part of a settlement for its part in an opiate over usage epidemic, manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three largest distributors have agreed to pay Minnesota millions for their roles in selling and promoting the drug. 

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Friday that Johnson & Johnson, along with Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen have given the final approval to a $26 billion settlement that will bring $303 million to Minnesota over the course of 18 years.

The Attorney General’s Office also released the amounts that each eligible city and county is estimated to receive directly over the 18-year term of the settlements, including $42 million to Hennepin and $15 million to Ramsey counties. 

"No amount of money will ever make up for the death and destruction that opioid companies caused families and communities around Minnesota. Still, it is important to hold them accountable for the harm they’ve done, and these settlements do that," Ellison said in a statement announcing the settlement. 

In Minnesota, all 87 counties as well as 143 cities have signed on to the settlements, and will receive its full share of $303 million once the Legislature passes legislation necessary to implement the statewide agreement. 

Once passed, 75 percent of available funds will go directly to Minnesota’s local communities to support treatment, prevention, recovery, harm reduction, and other strategies to address the opioid epidemic. The remaining 25 percent will go to the State of Minnesota, to be overseen and distributed by the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council (OERAC).  

"My office and I are ready to work cooperatively with leaders and members in both the House and the Senate to get a bill to the Governor’s desk as quickly as possible, so that we can get these long-awaited resources into communities where they are desperately needed," Ellison said.

Funds for the national settlement will begin being paid on April 2, 2022. 

In addition to the funds the companies are required to pay, distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen will be required to implement new recordkeeping oversight processes; terminate and prohibit shipping opioids within their companies; and prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders. 

In addition to the settlement, as part of the agreement Johnson & Johnson is required to stop selling opioids; not fund, lobby, or provide grants to third parties related to opioids; or share clinical trial data. 

The agreement marks the culmination of three years of negotiations to resolve more than 4,000 claims of state and local governments across the country. It is the second-largest multi state agreement in U.S. history, second only to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.