Nebraska to receive $100 million in national opioid settlement
Attorney General Doug Peterson says the money will primarily go towards opioid abuse prevention, treatment and law enforcement.
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The state of Nebraska will receive $100 million over an 18-year period after the United States settled with Johnson & Johnson and three drug distribution companies, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson.
In total, the U.S. will be collecting $26 billion dollars in settlement money that will be distributed to states across the country. The four companies were facing thousands of opioid lawsuits for not being clear about the risks of painkillers.
“The manufacturers from the outset underrepresented the danger of the opioids,” Nebraska attorney general Doug Peterson said. “They tried to suggest that they had studies or information that showed the time sequencing would be beneficial and be less addictive.”
Peterson says the settlement terms are final and the state should start seeing checks in the next six months.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” president and CEO of CenterPointe Topher Hanson said. “We have to scrutinize what we’re hearing, we have to advocate for ourselves and raise questions and when things have dangerous propensity, we need to be careful about how we’re doing that.
Hansen says opiates are drugs that are the most lethal in relapse.
“That’s why you’re seeing the settlements you’re seeing is because they were pushing these drugs and hiding the truth and setting things up for doctors to prescribe way more than was healthy for an individual,” Hansen said.
Five years ago, Nebraska started the Nebraska Coalition to Prevent Opioid Abuse, which was implemented to prevent an opioid crisis here in the state.
According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, in 2019, 168 people died of a drug overdose in the state and at least 64 of those were opioid related.
Peterson says the money will primarily go towards opioid abuse prevention, with some going to treatment and a bit towards law enforcement. County officials and municipal representation will determine how best to distribute the funds across the state with the primary focus of treatment.
“We want to make sure that no one in the state of Nebraska would be denied the opportunity to get those treatment programs because of the funding we now have,” Peterson said.
Hansen says he anticipates that CenterPointe will receiving settlement money from the state, which will help the organization optimize the number of patients it can serve.
“Everybody in the whole country is experiencing workforce shortage, and we are as well,” Hansen said. “So getting more dollars that can help us offer competitive wages, to get access to that helps us build our capacity to serve people who have opioid-type issues and need that help.”