CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to opt into an opioid litigation settlement that’s expected to bring up to $2.58 million to Clearfield County.
The settlement is part of a nation-wide agreement with Cardinal Health, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson, which are among the largest distributors of opioid drugs.
The agreement requires the settling defendants to pay up to $1 billion over 18 years to resolve Pennsylvania claims, according to Michael D’Amico, the county’s attorney in the litigation.
Of that, 70 percent will be allocated to county governments and 15 percent to the commonwealth. An additional 15 percent will go to counties, including Clearfield, with pending lawsuits, he said.
The settlement will also limit pharmaceutical companies from engagement in deceptive marketing practices, which D’Amico referenced as being “the root” of the opioid epidemic.
“We’re keenly aware that the settlement amount allocated to Clearfield County is insufficient to fully abate the opioid crisis,” D’Amico said.
“However, it will allow the county to begin the process of curbing opioid addiction and death.” The commissioners also weighed the risk of opting out of the settlement.
“(They) recognized three major opioid pharmaceutical companies have filed for bankruptcy and the Supreme Court of Oklahoma just tossed out a $465 million verdict in an opioid case against J&J.”
The settlement amount allocated to each Pennsylvania county was calculated by a formula that considered the opioid crisis’ impact on the county.
Factors included: the total number of overdose deaths, the amount of Naloxone administered by emergency personnel between 2018 and 2020 and number of opioid-related hospitalizations.
It also considered the total amount of prescription opioids that were dispensed between 2006 and 2014 measured in morphine milligram equivalents.
Pennsylvania counties have to opt into the proposed settlement by Jan. 2, 2022, and if approved, counties will see their first payment later in the year, D’Amico said.
If approved, Commissioner John A. Sobel, board chairman, said settlement funds will help the county establish opioid mitigation efforts for years to come.