Jackson County will receive approximately $13 million as part of a historic, nationwide opioid settlement with Johnson & Johnson and major opioid distributors. The county filed a civil lawsuit in 2018 against the nation’s leading pharmaceutical companies for their deliberate and deceptive marketing strategies of opioid painkillers, resulting in high overdose and fatality rates throughout Jackson County.
The case was managed by a team of attorneys from the firms of Williams Dirks Dameron LLC, Simmons Hanley Conroy LLC, Hardwick Law Firm LLC and Boulware Law LLC, under the direction of the Jackson County Counselor’s Office.
“While the settlement funds will provide us with the opportunity to make real improvements in Jackson County, it is important to remember that these dollars will never come close to repairing the harm done by opioid addiction in our communities,” Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. said.
“No amount of money will turn back time and fix all the lives that have been irrevocably damaged, all the families that have been broken, nor will it bring back any of the loved ones lost due to a crisis born from the greed of pharmaceutical companies. I am committed to making sure that these dollars are used to repair as much of the damage as we can, while also ensuring that we reduce the pain that continues to happen in Jackson County because of opioid addiction.”
White has requested that the Jackson County Health Department begin planning for the use of the funds, which under the settlement agreement, will be used to assist with prevention and treatment programs related to the opioid crisis. Possible plans include coordinating with the CORE4 jurisdictions as the County looks for opportunities to maximize opioid education and support to the community.
“We acknowledge that this settlement will not atone for the immense suffering, loss, and interpersonal harm experienced by many as a result of systemic failures and greed,” Interim Jackson County Health Director Ray Dlugolecki said.
“The Health Department will work collaboratively with partners and those harmed by this crisis to identify an equitable and strategic investment of these dollars to help save lives, reduce harm, and build capacity for controlling this public health crisis.”
Settlement funds will be paid over a term of 18 years, with initial payments occurring as early as April 2022. Jackson County’s $13 million allocation is part of a nationwide settlement valued at approximately $26 billion.