A proposed agreement with opioid distributors and one manufacturer would direct about $400 million to Wisconsin’s state and local governments, if approved.
The proposed agreement, announced by state Attorney General Josh Kaul and the Wisconsin Counties Association on Wednesday, stems from a multistate investigation Kaul joined in March 2019 into the business practices of opioid distributors, as well as litigation brought by cities and counties across the country, including 71 of 72 Wisconsin counties and more than a dozen Wisconsin cities and villages.
The multistate investigation looked into whether opioid distributors fulfilled their legal obligation to refuse to ship opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders and whether Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid drugs.
The agreement was reached with Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors. It comes on the heels of a proposed $4.3 billion settlement agreement that Kaul and officials in 14 other states reached with the Sackler family and their company, opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, for prevention and recovery efforts that would direct about $65 million to Wisconsin.
The $26 billion proposed deal announced on Wednesday also includes a settlement with opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids.
“A priority of mine and the Wisconsin Department of Justice in addressing the opioid epidemic is to hold the companies that engaged in unlawful conduct and contributed to the epidemic accountable for their role in the epidemic, both because that’s the right thing to do, but also because the companies made very significant profits in their conduct that contributed to the epidemic, and recovering those resources and getting them to communities in Wisconsin to fight the epidemic is going to help us support efforts to provide treatment and recovery and prevention programs,” Kaul said.
The agreement would resolve the claims of both states and local governments across the country, including the nearly 4,000 that have filed lawsuits in federal and state courts against the opioid distributors.
The agreement only represents one subset of defendants in the opioid litigation, and future settlement agreements with other companies involved in the opioid epidemic, such as pharmacies, are possible.
As part of the agreement, the three opioid distributors will collectively pay up to $21 billion over 18 years, and Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years, with up to $3.7 billion paid during the first three years. Wisconsin’s $400 million share, which may fluctuate slightly upon finalization, is determined by a formula that accounts for the state’s overdose deaths, people with substance abuse disorder, opioids prescribed and the population of the state.
The money is intended to be used on opioid treatment and prevention.
The agreement, if approved, would also require Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen to provide state regulators with data about where drugs are distributed and how often; detect suspicious opioid orders from pharmacies; terminate pharmacies’ ability to receive shipments when they show signs of diversion; and prohibit shipping of and report suspicious opioid orders.
It would also force the distribution companies to prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders.
The 10-year agreement would force Johnson & Johnson to stop selling opioids, not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids, not lobby on activities related to opioids and share clinical trial data with the Yale University Open Data Access Project.
States have 30 days to decide whether to participate in the settlement. If enough states agree, then counties and cities can accept the terms.
If the agreement is accepted, Kaul and an attorney for the Wisconsin Counties Association said they believe the settlement funds would be distributed according to the terms set out in a law recently signed by Gov. Tony Evers.
Under the law, the state must work with counties on settlements to lawsuits they have filed separately against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The law requires 70% of any settlement to go to local governments and 30% to the state. And all of the money would have to be spent on opioid abuse, no other government programs.
Get to know the Wisconsin Badgers' 2022 football recruiting class
Myles Burkett became the Badgers’ first Class of 2022 recruit when he announced his decision in January.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Franklin is a three-star recruit per 247Sports and Rivals, and showed great mobility and arm strength in his junior season. He battled back from a knee injury as a sophomore to throw for 1,236 and 11 touchdowns and rush for 180 yards and a score in a pandemic-shortened season.
He’s the first in-state quarterback to earn a scholarship out of high school since 2011.
As his recruiting stock started to rise, the Badgers were able to secure a commitment from Fall Rivers’ Barrett Nelson in late June.
The offensive tackle was 6-foot-6 and 255 pounds after his junior season, and his quickness off the ball has made him a load on both the offensive and defensive lines. Nelson is a three-star recruit per 247Sports and a two-star on Rivals.
He had offers from Iowa State, Northwestern, Nebraska, Purdue and others before choosing UW.
Nelson’s father, Todd, was a Badgers offensive lineman in the late 1980s, and his brother, Jack, is currently an offensive lineman for UW.
After wowing UW coaches at a pair of camps, Monroe tight end JT Seagreaves accepted a scholarship offer in late June.
Seagreaves is an intriguing prospect for the Badgers — at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, he has the physical frame to grow into an imposing tight end, and he possesses sprinter speeds. He’s averaged more than 21 yards per catch each of the past two seasons and was starting to gain more Power Five conference interested when he committed to UW.
Seagreaves is a three-star recruit per 247Sports and a two-star according to Rivals.
In multiple trips to UW’s campus in June, Cade Yacamelli was called “a football player” by UW coaches rather than locking him into a position. He earned a scholarship offer after an impressive camp workout and accepted it in late June.
The consensus three-star athlete was starting to earn more recruiting attention from Power Five schools when he accepted the Badgers’ offer. UW was the first Power Five offer for the 6-foot, 200-pounder. He’s played receiver, running back and defensive back in high school, but likely projects as a receiver or defensive back in college.
The Penn Trafford High School product has good quickness and change-of-direction that make him dangerous with the ball in his hands.
When A’Khoury Lyde accepted a UW scholarship offer in late June, he became the first player on the defensive side of the ball to commit in the 2022 class.
Lyde (5-foot-11, 170 pounds), a consensus three-star recruit, has strong ball skills and a willingness to hit that separates him from other cornerbacks.
The Wayne, New Jersey, native is the eighth-ranked player in his state, per Rivals.
The Badgers landed a tall, speedy receiver when Tommy McIntosh committed in late June.
The DeWitt, Michigan, native stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 200 pounds. He uses his body to shield off defenders at the point of the catch and does well catching the ball away from his body. His Hudl page lists a 4.47-second 40-yard dash time, and he has breakaway speed when he gets in the open field and can use his long strides.
A consensus three-star wide receiver chose the Badgers over offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
UW beefed up its defensive front by landing defensive tackle Curtis Neal.
Neal — a 6-foot-2, 310-pounder — had more than 25 scholarship offers, and reportedly was deciding between UW and Ohio State at the end of his recruiting process. Neal is a product of William Amos Hough High School in Cornelius, North Carolina, where the Badgers found receiver Devin Chandler in last year’s cycle.
Neal, with his size and strength, likely fits best as a nose tackle in the Badgers’ 3-4 scheme.
Jim Leonhard may have found another rangy, smart cornerback to add to his secondary in Avyonne Jones, who committed in to UW in late June.
Jones — who hails from Southlake, Texas — was on campus the weekend of June 18 for an official visit and had narrowed an extensive offer list to UW and California. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound defensive back was previously committed to Oklahoma State, but retracted that commitment in late May.
With good recovery speed and a good feel for getting his hands between a receiver’s at the point of the catch, the consensus three-star prospect is a good fit for what UW cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat said he wants from his position group.
The Badgers landed the top-ranked player in Wisconsin for the sixth consecutive recruiting class when Joe Brunner committed the last week of June.
Brunner — a 6-foot-6, 300-pound prospect from Milwaukee who attends Whitefish Bay High School — is a consensus four-star recruit and a top-10 offensive tackle in the nation.
He held at least 16 Power Five scholarship offers, including ones from a majority of the Big Ten Conference, LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon and Tennessee.
VINNY ANTHONY II
Receiver Vinny Anthony II — a consensus three-star prospect from Louisville, Kentucky — joined UW's class on June 30.
Possessing a good burst of speed and long arms that extend his catch radius, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Anthony has a chance to play across the formation as a receiver.
Anthony chose UW over Cincinnati and Duke.
Austin Brown — who hails from Johnston City, Illinois, a small town outside of Carbondale — was considering offers from Boston College, Illinois, Michigan and Northwestern before choosing UW. The consensus three-star prospect had 21 known scholarship offers.
Brown committed to UW on the Fourth of July.
At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, he has a good frame already and his high school film shows a willingness to lay big hits and attack blockers. He also plays quarterback for Johnston City.