TAMPA, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis commended a $21 billion multi-state agreement with AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, three of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies, to settle litigation related to the opioid crisis in America. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years, with Florida receiving almost $300 million from that agreement.
“While the damage can’t be undone, the more than $1.3 billion Florida will receive will help us continue to combat the devastating effects of the nationwide opioid crisis,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This settlement helps hold these companies accountable for their role in contributing to the opioid epidemic and will provide Floridians struggling with opioid addiction the services they need to recover. I appreciate Attorney General Ashley Moody for championing efforts to address the destruction caused by opioids in Florida.”
According to the 2020 Interim Florida Medical Examiner Report, there were more than 3,800 opioid-related deaths reported last year, which is a 30.5% increase from 2019, with opioids identified as either the cause of death or present in the deceased. In 2020, more than 3,000 opioid-caused deaths were reported, which is a 51% increase from 2019.
Last year, there were nearly 38,000 opioid overdose emergency department visits among Florida residents. Furthermore, there were 7,138 drug overdose deaths among adults 18 years of age and older in Florida in 2020.
Based on the agreement, the three distributors collectively will pay up to $21 billion over 17 and a half years, with Florida receiving a total of $1.3 billion. The settlement funding will be used to support opioid treatment, prevention and recovery services.
Funding from similar settlement agreements, such as one with McKinsey Consulting, has been harnessed in various ways, including:
- Expanding treatment for opioid use disorders;
- Providing care through the use of provider organizations that treat individuals with substance abuse disorders; and
- Utilizing teletherapy as a strategy to improve access to treatment with therapists who share the same cultural background.