UTAH (ABC4) – In a landmark opioid settlement, Salt Lake County and 26 others are making Big Pharma pay for the opioid crisis in Utah.
This is a major crackdown on drug abuse and a major settlement against drug companies to fight the opioid crisis in Utah. 27 Utah counties will receive a total of $266 million dollars in the settlement, with opioid distributors and drugmakers paying over the next 18 years.
“We were seeing on a daily basis the devastation and loss of life it was causing,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.
Salt Lake County is receiving $57 million in a $266 million settlement against four major companies: Mckesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson.
“The opioid manufacturers, distributors, and others, knew of the addictive nature and did nothing and in fact in many ways were predatory,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.
Utah leaders say these companies need to face the crisis they’ve caused in our state.
“This kind of devastation for purely greed and profiteering will not be tolerated and it will not be allowed to be passed down to the taxpayers and the grieving families which are suffering the from the collateral impact of their greed,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.
The majority of this money will go towards opioid reform, such as recovery efforts for families, education, harm reduction and community resources.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said the county needs this money for vital programs that are costing the county hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
“We don’t have enough resources, we don’t have enough money,” Sheriff Rivera said.
Leaders praised the work of the 27 counties that filed the lawsuit and said it was their efforts that made these companies pay.
“There was a vacuum of leadership at the state level, and it took the collective effort of 27 counties to fill that vacuum and to advocate and fight for their communities,” said Gill.
But even with the settlement, leaders said more still needs to be done.
“It’s expected nationwide that these predatory entities pay,” said Wilson.
The county is expecting the first two payments at the end of this month or later on in May and in July.
They said they have other lawsuits currently in progress with other pharmaceutical companies such as Purdue to make them answer for the opioid crisis here in Utah.