TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced today that all 21 counties in New Jersey, and all 241 municipalities that have populations over 10,000 or that filed related lawsuits, have joined the State in signing onto the nationwide settlement agreements with Johnson & Johnson and the country’s three largest pharmaceutical distributors – McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen – to resolve claims involving their roles in fomenting the country’s opioid crisis.
As a result, New Jersey and its counties and municipalities are on track to receive the maximum amount available to the State under the settlements: over $641 million. Under the settlements, the amount that each state will receive depends on the level of participation among its county and municipal governments that have populations over 10,000 or that have filed lawsuits against the companies. New Jersey has now achieved 100 percent participation among those counties and municipalities.
New Jersey announced its participation in the settlements in August 2021, and eligible counties and municipalities were given until January 26, 2022 to sign on. During that time state, county, and local officials have been working together to ensure that New Jersey receives the maximum possible benefit from the settlements, with assistance from the New Jersey State League of Municipalities and New Jersey Association of Counties.
The defendant companies are expected to announce by February 25, 2022, whether the deal will go forward, which will depend on whether enough state subdivisions from around the country have signed up. If all states and eligible subdivisions participate, the agreements will be valued at $26 billion nationwide.
“The opioid crisis has devastated too many New Jersey families, and ending the opioid epidemic continues to be one of my Administration’s highest priorities,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “The funds received from this settlement will aid critical opioid use disorder and harm reduction resources and programs, which will strengthen our ability to save lives by preventing overdose deaths and connecting New Jerseyans to supports and treatment when they need it most. I am proud that our counties and municipalities from every corner of the state are coming together to tackle the crisis.”
“The full participation of New Jersey’s counties and municipalities in this historic settlement means that New Jersey is on track to receive the maximum amount available to fund life-saving addiction prevention, treatment and recovery programs in the future,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “No amount of money could ever be enough to heal the wounds that the opioid crisis has caused so many families. But it is heartening to see our New Jersey communities joining forces to combat the opioid epidemic together, and I thank all of the local leaders who are uniting with the State in this fight.”
“Accountability is a key step in helping to end the opioid epidemic,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “These funds will provide critical support for and access to treatment, prevention and harm reduction programs for individuals and families throughout the state who are struggling with addiction or who have lost a loved one to an overdose.”
“New Jersey has long been a leader in prevention, treatment, and recovery for individuals and families affected by opioid use disorder,” said Acting Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “This settlement provides critical resources to expand life-saving programs and practices – and to save lives. We look forward to working with state and local partners as we help communities heal and avoid further tragedies caused by the opioid epidemic. We also continue to urge anyone needing assistance to call 844-ReachNJ for 24/7 addiction treatment assistance. We are here to help.”
“Our local communities have been the front lines in the opioids crisis, facing firsthand the devastating impacts on our communities and our families. We appreciate the partnership with the Murphy Administration and with NJAC in achieving 100% participation, and hope to bring much needed resources to confront this epidemic,” said Mike Cerra, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities.
“The announcement today by Acting Attorney General Bruck is great news in the State’s long-standing battle against the opioid crisis, which has destroyed countless lives, families, and communities for far too long. Whether it’s providing educational programs, peer counseling services, rehabilitation options, or treatment facilities, county government stands ready to provide vital support, services, and resources to those in need,” said John G. Donnadio, Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of Counties.
Deputy Attorneys General Lara Fogel, Patricia Schiripo, Brian DeVito, Jesse Sierant, and Eric Boden, of the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, Assistant Attorney General Janine Matton, and former Assistant Attorney General Kevin Jespersen handled the Johnson & Johnson and Distributors matters on behalf of the State.