With critical mass of local government support reached, Colorado set to receive $385 million from opioid settlements with Johnson & Johnson and major drug distributors
Jan. 4, 2022 (DENVER)—Colorado stands to receive its maximum share of funding from legal settlements reached with Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s three largest drug distribution companies that fueled the opioid crisis, Attorney General Phil Weiser announced today. With all 64 counties and nearly 100% of the municipalities needed signed onto the settlements and a joint framework for distributing opioid dollars throughout the state, Colorado is set to receive approximately $385 million when the settlements are finalized in 2022.
The settlement agreements with Johnson & Johnson and the drug distributors require states to have significant participation by their counties and municipalities in order to receive maximum base and bonus payments. The joint framework that Attorney General Weiser unveiled in August is the mechanism his office used to garner local government participation in the Johnson & Johnson and the distributors’ settlements. This framework will also govern the distribution of any funds from future opioid settlements. Colorado is one of the first states to reach this critical local government participation threshold and maximize its settlement payments.
“By bringing together this amazing level of local government support well in advance of the January 26 sign-on deadline, Colorado is demonstrating its collaborative solving problem culture and commitment to combating the opioid epidemic. As a result, we as a state will be poised to act on our opioid response plan as soon as settlement dollars come to our state. I thank the department staff and our local government partners, including Colorado Counties Inc. and the Colorado Municipal League for working collaboratively to design the opioid framework and helping us achieve this incredible milestone,” Attorney General Weiser said.
The joint framework is structured according to a memorandum of understanding between the Colorado Department of Law and all counties, municipalities, towns, and county and city municipal corporations in the state that agree to the framework even if they have not filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers or others for their role in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic. Most of the opioid settlement proceeds go directly to 19 regional collaboratives and local governments for opioid abatement purposes such as drug treatment, recovery, prevention and education, and appropriate harm reduction programs.
The attorney general’s office worked with local government representatives, including city and county attorneys and leaders from Colorado Counties, Inc., and the Colorado Municipal League, to develop the joint framework.
“Reaching 100% signatures from counties is a huge success and our commissioners are very proud of this. The members of Colorado Counties, Inc. truly appreciate the partnership counties developed with the attorney general’s office during this entire process and believe this positive partnership is one of the reasons we reached 100% participation from counties. This kind of collaboration and partnership is how government should work and is something the attorney general modeled well,” said John Swartout, executive director of Colorado Counties, Inc.
“Municipalities from every part of the state have seen the devastation caused by opioids. CML is proud to be part of state-local partnership at its best and is thankful for the leadership of Attorney General Weiser,” said Kevin Bommer, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League, a non-profit, non-partisan organization representing 270 Colorado cities and towns.
The Johnson & Johnson settlement dollars will be paid over nine years, with the majority of the funds paid during the first three years, and the drug distributor settlement dollars will be paid over 18 years. The first payments are to be delivered later in 2022. Colorado expects additional settlement dollars from Mallinckrodt when it exits bankruptcy. The state has already received more than $8 million in funds from a $10 million settlement with McKinsey & Company.
Weiser continues to investigate additional companies and individuals who have contributed to the opioid epidemic. For more information on the joint framework and how Attorney General Weiser and the Department of Law are combating the opioid epidemic please visit www.coag.gov/opioids.