Briefline

Colorado to receive $385 million from Johnson & Johnson opioid settlement

By: - January 4, 2022 3:35 pm

Oxycodone pain pills prescribed for a patient with chronic pain lie on display on March 23, 2016, in Norwich, Connecticut. (John Moore/Getty Images)

All 64 Colorado counties have signed onto a joint framework for how the state should distribute money from settlements with drug companies, Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Tuesday.

When the opioid settlements are finalized this year, Colorado is set to receive approximately $385 million from Johnson & Johnson and the country’s three largest drug distribution companies. 

“By bringing together this amazing level of local government support well in advance of the January 26 sign-on deadline, Colorado is demonstrating its collaborative solving problem culture and commitment to combating the opioid epidemic,” Weiser said in a statement. “As a result, we as a state will be poised to act on our opioid response plan as soon as settlement dollars come to our state.”

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Overdose deaths due to opioids increased by 54% in 2020, according to the Colorado Health Institute, and the number of deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled between 2019 and 2020.

In addition to the counties, “nearly 100%” of the municipalities involved have also signed the framework, Weiser said. 

The plan calls for 60% of the settlement funds to be distributed to 19 regions of the state. Local leaders from each region will then decide how to spend the money and give annual financial reports to the state. The money is meant to fund opioid abatement purposes, such as drug treatment, recovery, education and harm reduction programs.

Another 20% of the money will go to smaller municipal governments, 10% will head to a fund in the attorney general’s office for statewide efforts and 10% will go to an infrastructure fund for treatment and recovery services. 

“Reaching 100% signatures from counties is a huge success and our commissioners are very proud of this. The members of Colorado Counties, Inc. truly appreciate the partnership counties developed with the attorney general’s office during this entire process and believe this positive partnership is one of the reasons we reached 100% participation from counties,” said John Swartout, executive director of Colorado Counties, Inc.

The Johnson & Johnson settlement dollars will be paid over nine years, with the majority coming in the first three years. The money from the distributors will be paid over 18 years. The state expects the first payment later this year.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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