Former president Donald Trump was highly critical of opioid drug manufacturers. He wanted to shed more light on their role in the opioid crisis. The rise in prescription opioids has drawn the attention lawmakers across the country. Opioid prescriptions were 219 million in 2011; this was nearly triple the number reported 20 years earlier despite the fact the level of pain felt by Americans may not have increased proportionately. Others believe opioid manufacturers may have aggressively marketed these drugs to doctors without properly describing the risk.

In October 2021 Trump’s DOJ and Purdue Pharma agreed to an $8 billion opioid settlement. The deal came weeks before the election. I thought the deal would create momentum for Trump’s re-election, but it was not meant to be. However, it did create a pathway for a global opioid deal. This past summer Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and the big opioid distributors signed a $26 billion global opioid deal. At least eight states, including Nevada, refused to sign.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford did not sign in hopes of getting a better deal. According to The Nevada Independent, AG Ford called the $240 million Nevada was expected to received “woefully insufficient”:

Nevada will not sign on to a proposed $26 billion multistate settlement with the nation’s three largest drug distribution companies and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson — businesses accused of fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic that has killed thousands of Nevadans — in hopes of getting a better deal.

Attorney General Aaron Ford told The Nevada Independent on Monday that the state would have received roughly $240 million from the settlements — an amount he called “woefully insufficient” — and that the state will instead pursue separate negotiations with the companies “to ensure that the people in this state are adequately recompensed for the damages that opioids have caused in our communities.”

Ford would not identify how much the state is seeking through those separate negotiations but took issue with the allocation model used in the settlements.

“It’s something that we believe we have to stand firm on because those who’ve been involved in the opioid scenario here have done damage in our state, and we think they need to pay,” Ford said.

State AGs from New York’s Letitia James to Alabama’s Steve Marshall to Texas’ Ken Paxton are handing out opioid checks and receiving positive publicity for taking the deal. Meanwhile, Judge Peter J. Wilson recently ruled drugmakers were not liable for the opioid crisis in California. Most drugmakers settled other cases prior to a verdict. The California ruling was the first trial win for any drug companies in 3,300 or more lawsuits filed by states and local governments pursuant to the crisis.

That said, the state of California may get nothing out of the $26 billion opioid settlement. Other states like Nevada or Georgia who fought the law and the law won, may also get nothing. This implies Nevada and State AG Aaron Ford may lose $240 million they could have used for treatment and prevention pursuant to the opioid epidemic.


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