weather icon Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Nevada will rejoin $26B multistate opioid settlement

Updated January 4, 2022 - 2:31 pm

CARSON CITY — Nevada will reverse course and rejoin a $26 billion multistate settlement with opioid distributors and manufacturers in light of recent court decisions and other changes that could delay the state receiving funds, Attorney General Aaron Ford announced Tuesday.

Ford said that the state would receive some $285 million through a pair of settlements.

“After multiple new developments, I ultimately decided that it was in Nevada’s best interest to join this settlement,” Ford said in a streamed news conference Tuesday.

Nevada was among eight states that chose to opt out of some or all of the multistate settlement reached in July with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health.

But since Nevada’s opt-out decision in August, court rulings involving other states, along with the December reversal of a bankruptcy settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, prompted the state to reconsider, Ford said.

“I can tell you that this is the best deal for our state from these defendants,” Ford said. “Nevada will get more money, we’ll get it faster because of the settlements we have entered into, and we can start doing the work to heal our state from this epidemic.”

The state’s share of the multistate settlement with the three drug distributors is $231.7 million, with initial payments coming in April and July this and every July thereafter for 17 years. Under a separate settlement with Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, Nevada will receive $53.5 million total, with 95 percent of it coming this year.

Under a 2021 agreement, the state shares the settlement payments with 29 local government entities. After attorneys fees, the state’s share is 44 percent with localities sharing 39 percent and counties dividing the remaining 17 percent, based on the state’s share of Medicaid claims payments in each jurisdiction.

Legislation enacted last year created a special account for opioid settlement funds to cover statewide projects and grants to regional, local and tribal governments and private organizations for programs to address the impacts of opioid and other substance abuse. The measure also sets up an assessment procedure to identify and prioritize needs.

Ford also announced that the state has received a $5.75 million grant from the Department of Justice to fund jail and hospital diversion programs and assessment and case management for high-risk people in rural parts of the state.

Nevada has pending claims against other drug companies.

“We still have a long way to go on this lawsuit,” Ford said. “We have numerous claims against many other defendants still remaining, including other manufacturers and pharmacy defendants.”

Ford noted that 1,300 Nevadans died from opioid use from January 2019 to October 2021.

Last year, Ford announced a $45 million settlement against one company involved in the opioid litigation. The lawsuit is being handled on a contingency fee basis for the state by Eglet Adams, the law firm where Ford worked as a private attorney before being elected attorney general in 2018. But Ford recused himself from the selection process.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Las Vegas needs to save water. It won’t find it in lawns.

An error by SNWA, combined with pushback to a “nonfunctional turf” ban could leave the Las Vegas Valley short of the water savings it needs to continue growing without increasing its overall water use.