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Landmark settlement agreement reached in opioid epidemic

Posted at 10:20 AM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 11:20:56-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As the opioid crisis worsens with new synthetic drugs, Nebraska will likely see millions of dollars in the next few years to help fight this epidemic.

Attorney General Doug Peterson announced a historic $26 billion dollar settlement against the largest pharmaceutical companies in the United States.

The settlement includes Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergan, the nation's three major pharmaceutical distributors.

It also includes Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids as well.

The three distributors collectively will pay up to $21 billion dollars over 18 years.

Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over 9 years with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.

Dr. Kenneth Zoucha, a University of Nebraska Medical Center doctor who specializes in addiction, said some of that money will filter into Nebraska to help prevent this type of crisis from ever happening again.

"They will be going to prevention. In the prevention money, it will be going to city, counties, communities, tribal areas and the state, which I think will be great. Some of the money will be going to help with treatment of patients that have substance abuse disorders, opioid use disorder specifically and some of the money will be going to law enforcement to help in their efforts as well," said Zoucha.

States now have 30 days to decide whether to agree to the deal.

Local governments have five months to sign on.

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