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Nebraska could wind up with $100 million from opioid settlements

Nebraska could wind up with $100 million from opioid settlements

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Eugene Haywood was just 15 when he sold his first crack rock on the streets of Peoria, Illinois.

LINCOLN — Nebraska is in line to potentially receive $100 million as part of national settlements over the distribution of opioids that contributed to a national addiction epidemic.

A settlement announced this week requires three major drug distribution companies — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — to pay a combined $21 billion over 18 years to a coalition of state and local governments. The settlement also requires drugmaker Johnson & Johnson to pay $5 billion over nine years.

It’s the second opioid-related settlement Nebraska has been a party to. Earlier this year, Attorney General Doug Peterson announced that the state would receive $2.59 million as part of a $573 million settlement with McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s largest consulting firms, which worked with drug manufacturers in a promotional role.

Nebraska is also a party to a settlement being negotiated with Purdue Pharma.

Peterson said he expects the state to receive about $100 million total from the three cases over the next 18 years.

Most of that money will go directly into Nebraska’s Opioid Recovery Fund to be used for treatment and prevention purposes. Some of the money will go to counties and cities that joined the suit individually.

Nebraska never filed a lawsuit against an opioid company, as nearly every other state in the U.S. did. Instead, Peterson joined a multi-state investigation into companies that manufactured and marketed opioids, which qualified the state for a portion of recently announced settlements. The decision saved the state money that would have been spent on attorney fees had it filed a lawsuit, according to the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office.

Peterson has made abuse prevention a priority during his tenure. A 2016 summit involving Peterson’s office and other entities, including the University of Nebraska Medical Center, contributed to the creation of a coalition focused on opioid abuse.

Overdose deaths in Nebraska, which include opioids and other drugs, had been declining in recent years. That changed in 2020 when Nebraska, and the U.S. as a whole, saw a spike in overdose deaths. Nebraska tallied 209 drug overdose deaths in 2020, compared with 146 in 2019, according to an estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

CORRECTION: Nebraska participated in a multi-state investigation into companies that manufactured and marketed opioids, which qualified the state for a portion of recently announced settlements. A story published Saturday incorrectly characterized the state’s actions involving opioid companies. 


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