General Skrmetti Announces $84 Million Payout to Combat Opioid Crisis
Nashville-Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti announced today that more than $84 million was paid to the state and local governments yesterday to be used to abate the opioid crisis in Tennessee. Tennessee has now received more than $128 million from the initial settlement payments with three national pharmaceutical companies and opioid manufacturer Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
The total amount includes more than $90 million for the Tennessee Opioid Abatement Trust Fund, which is dedicated to addressing the opioid crisis in the state. The Opioid Abatement Council was formed to oversee the trust and ensure funds are disbursed throughout the state relating to opioid abuse, misuse, prevention, and awareness. The remaining funds, which are also for abatement, are split between the state’s general fund and a separate fund being disbursed directly to counties and local governments by the national administrator.
“This money will be used exclusively to repair the damage caused by the opioid epidemic that continues to ravage Tennessee,” said Skrmetti. “No amount of money will be enough to fully compensate the affected families and communities, but we will keep working to hold every bad actor accountable for their role in the crisis.”
The $90 million in the trust fund will be disbursed by the Tennessee Opioid Abatement Council, an independent panel established by Governor Bill Lee and the General Assembly in 2021. The Council had its first meeting last July and has been working since to identify programs that will best remediate the opioid crisis. By statute, thirty-five percent of the trust funds will be disbursed to the counties to be spent on local abatement programs. These funds are in addition to the direct payments the counties will be receiving.
This year’s settlement payments provide an opportunity for a substantial initial investment in abatement efforts. The 2022 payments are substantially larger than a typical year payment under the settlement agreements because Tennessee met incentives in the Janssen settlement that accelerated multiple annual payments from the company. Janssen will make six additional payments starting in 2026. The distributors – AmerisourceBergen Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., and McKesson Corporation – will make annual payments through 2038. In addition, the Attorney General’s Office continues to investigate and litigate against numerous other companies responsible for the opioid crisis.
Tennessee was a lead state in the negotiations that secured these agreements, which took several years to complete because of the complex nature of the settlements. Nationally, more than 50 states and territories and thousands of local governments have joined the agreements. In Tennessee, more than 150 counties and municipalities are participating.
“I am proud of our consumer protection team and the sacrifices they have made to get us to this point,” said Skrmetti. “Through Tennessee’s efforts at both the state and national levels, we have been able to hold these pharmaceutical companies accountable and now obtain significant funds to address the damage opioids have done to our communities.”