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Missouri finalizes $458M deal in opioid epidemic lawsuit

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri will get $458 million to help victims of the opioid epidemic as part of a settlement with the three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, the state attorney general announced Friday.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, said it was the biggest “victim-centric” settlement ever in Missouri.

“Today we have the opportunity to right some of the wrongs caused by the greed and deception of the opioid manufacturers and distributors,” Schmitt said at a press conference in St. Louis. “Today is about getting some sort of justice for the victims and their families and helping those who need it most.”

Schmitt said the money likely will be spent on more beds at in-patient addiction centers and emergency medicine used to counteract opioid overdoses, among other addiction resources.

Missouri reached a tentative deal with Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson in July 2021. Schmitt’s office has been working since then to get counties to sign on to the agreement so the state could get it’s full share of the deal.

Attorney General’s Office spokesman Chris Nuelle said $458 million was the maximum amount Missouri could have received under the deal.

The state of Missouri will get 60% of the settlement money and dole it out in grants to addiction treatment and prevention programs throughout the state, Schmitt said. The other 40% will go directly to cities and other municipalities.

The money represents Missouri’s share of a broader $26 billion deal between opioid makers and distributers and other state and local governments across the U.S. Lawyers for state and local governments reached the settlement after suing to force the pharmaceutical industry to help pay to fix a nationwide opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

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