$26 billion national opioid settlement: Too little, too late?

Written by on July 26, 2021

$26 billion national opioid settlement: Too little, too late?

By Hayden Mitman
July 26, 2021

Photo by Julie Viken from Pexels

HARRISBURG, Pa. – This week, a group of state attorneys general announced a $26 billion settlement with drug companies that produce and distribute opioids. 

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The move comes after the country saw a record number of fatal overdoses last year with more than 69,000 deaths due to opioids.

The Lehigh County Coroner has said that there was a 10% increase in overdose deaths locally over the course of 2020. 

Because of the severity of the crisis, Chris Jacob, associate director of Treatment Trends, an addiction rehabilitation center in Allentown, said this money might not be enough.

“The dollar amount, while it may sound significant to many, it really doesn’t give us the resources to address the underlying issues with addiction at its core,” Jacob says. 

The settlement is a start, he says, but it also allows companies to avoid taking responsibility for their role in the opioid epidemic.

“The fact that they didn’t take any culpability for it. You know, that didn’t sit well with me to be honest with you,” Jacob says. “Whether it be a problem in how they marketed the drug or they are still disputing the facts that how they distributed the drug led to the widespread issue, it’s really problematic for many of us who are on the front lines here.” 

The settlement would also require Johnson & Johnson to not produce opioid medication for at least 10 years. 

At least 48 states must agree to the settlement in order to receive the full payout.

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