$641M to be distributed in N.J. from settlement for opioid crisis

New Jersey will allocate the $641 million it receives from settlements with opioid distributors and manufacturers over the next 16 years to confront opioid addiction.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced the settlement funds during a Friday roundtable discussion with stakeholders and acting Attorney General Matt Platkin.

The settlement money will be paid through 2038 and will fund state and local programs focused on treatment, prevention and other strategies to combat the opioid epidemic in the state.

Nationwide settlement agreements were announced in July 2021 with four companies — Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured opioids, and the country’s three largest pharmaceutical distributors — McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen. Those agreements required the companies to change their business practices and provide for up to $26 billion in monetary payments to resolve claims by thousands of government entities.

“This is a historic moment in our fight to combat the opioid crisis in New Jersey and save lives,” said Murphy. “With these historic funds, we will continue to make critical investments in harm reduction centers, treatment programs and data-driven strategies to end the overdose crisis. With these funds, coupled with the nearly $100 million investment in my proposed budget, we will continue our work to combat the opioid crisis in New Jersey.”

Under the nationwide settlement agreements, the amount dedicated to each participating state depends on the level of participation among its county and municipal governments that have populations over 10,000 or that have filed lawsuits against the companies.

“No amount of money could undo the harms that the opioid epidemic has caused to too many New Jerseyans,” Platkin said. “But these historic settlements will bring hundreds of millions of dollars into our state to support lifesaving drug prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery programs, and will require these drug companies to change their business practices so that this does not happen again. I am proud of the attorneys and investigators in the Department of Law and Public Safety who helped deliver these settlement funds to New Jersey.”

New Jersey announced its participation in the opioid settlements in August 2021, and eligible counties and municipalities were given until Jan. 26 to sign on. During that time, state, county and local officials worked together to ensure that New Jersey would receive the maximum possible benefit from the settlements, with assistance from the New Jersey State League of Municipalities and New Jersey Association of Counties.