Nevada rejects $26B multistate opioid pact, to seek own deal
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada has joined a small number of states rejecting a $26 billion multistate settlement reached last month with an opioid drug maker and distributors, and will seek separate compensation for what the state attorney general called “the tragedy of the opioid crisis.”
Attorney General Aaron Ford commended other states for what he termed “two hard-fought multistate settlements,” but said in a statement that Nevada rejected the agreements reached last month with three U.S. drug distribution companies and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson.
Nevada would have received $282 million over the next 18 years, an aide to Ford said Wednesday.
In a statement Tuesday, Ford characterized the amount as inadequate and reported that the 484 opioid-related deaths in Nevada in 2020 represented a 40% increase over 2019.
“Nevada continues to be one of the hardest-hit states by the opioid crisis, and the compensation for Nevadans must be commensurate to the harm these companies caused,” Ford said. “I will continue working toward a resolution ... that more adequately addresses the devastation felt by every Nevadan who has experienced the tragedy of the opioid crisis.”
States had until last Saturday to decide whether to join the deal, under which companies acknowledged no wrongdoing. Local governments have another five months to decide if they will take part.
The team of lawyers that negotiated the settlement said Tuesday that 44 states had opted in, and they hoped the companies would see that as overwhelming support.
Alabama, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Washington and West Virginia also rejected the deals, according to reports, and New Hampshire agreed to the settlement with McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc., but not drugmaker Johnson & Johnson.
“We hope the defendants consider this state participation rate sufficient to continue on for adoption by communities,” a statement from attorneys Joe Rice, Elizabeth Cabraser, Peter Mougey, Paul Geller, Chris Seeger, Jennifer Scullion and Jayne Conroy said.
The agreement would have the distributors pay $21 billion and Johnson & Johnson pay $5 billion.
Nevada would have received $12.8 million per year over 18 years from the distributors and $4.6 million per year for 11 years from Johnson & Johnson, Ford aide John Sadler said. The funds would have been shared with local jurisdictions.
Ford announced the creation of a program that he said would distribute compensation that Nevada obtains “as a whole in a fair and equitable manner.”
The state share would be about 44%, according to the plan. Local governments would get about 39% and a Medicaid Match fund would get about 17%.
Ford’s announcement included statements of support from officials in Clark, Douglas, Humboldt, Mineral and Washoe counties, and the cities of North Las Vegas, Sparks and West Wendover.
“The proposed multistate settlements would be a bad deal for West Wendover as well as the state of Nevada,” West Wendover Mayor Daniel Corona said.
Marilyn Kirkpatrick, chairwoman of the powerful Clark County Commission with jurisdiction over the Las Vegas Strip, said the agreements don’t fully address what she termed “a calamity.”
“We need a solution that truly meets the needs and improves the lives of those affected in their short- and long-term recovery,” Kirkpatrick said. “Those responsible for this scourge on our society must be held accountable.”