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January 28, 2022

Maine AG announces how state will split $130M in opioid legal settlement

File photo Distribution of the settlement funds to Maine is expected to begin as soon as April.

Maine will distribute half of the expected $130 million settlement it receives in an opioid-related legal case to a drug abuse recovery fund, with the balance going to support state and local efforts to address the opioid epidemic. The settlement will award the funds over a period of 18 years.

The deal completes the state's acceptance of a settlement agreed to in 2021 by Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey. The agreement was with pharmaceutical distributors Cardinal Health Inc. (NYSE: CAH), McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK), and AmerisourceBergen Corp. (NYSE: ABC) and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

“At a time when Mainers continue to suffer from the pain and loss inflicted by the opioid epidemic, this agreement and the settlement it secures represents a significant opportunity to confront the crisis head on,” Frey said in a news release Friday.

“This agreement paves the way for Maine to receive significant resources, starting this year, to be specifically directed at tackling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging our state.  These resources will be deployed to address this crisis, provide necessary treatment for addiction, and save lives."

In 2020, 504 Mainers died from drug overdoses, which represented a 33% increase over 380 in 2019, according to an annual report released by Frey's office and the office of chief medical examiner. Of those deaths, 336 were due to non-pharmaceutical fentanyl, a 30% increase over 2019.

There were 118 overdoses due to pharmaceutical opioids, alone or in combination with other drugs and alcohol in 2020. Of those deaths, 19% had a current prescription for the opioid that caused death, dispensed to them within 30 days of death.

The agreement between the attorney general and the litigating cities, counties, and school districts calls for 20% of the proceeds of the settlement funds to go to the state to address the opioid epidemic.

Another 30% of the proceeds will go to the 39 Maine counties and municipalities that either filed litigation against the settling companies or that have more than 10,000 residents, while 50% will go to a Maine recovery fund that will determine how to distribute the proceeds.

Distribution of the settlement funds to Maine is expected to begin as soon as April.

This agreement will also govern the distribution of any proceeds received from ongoing opioid litigation with Purdue Pharma L.P. and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals (OTCMKTS: MNKKQ).

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