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February 25, 2022

Attorney General Miller: Drug distributors and Johnson & Johnson commit to $26 billion opioid agreement

Iowa to receive $174 million to fight the opioid crisis   

DES MOINES – Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced today the final approval of the $26 billion opioid agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – and Johnson & Johnson. Following successful state sign-on and subdivision sign-on periods, the defendants will start releasing funds to a national administrator on April 2, 2022. Money will start flowing to state and local governments in the second quarter of 2022. 

"The opioid crisis never should have happened. While we can't change the past, we can look toward a future where those responsible for this tragic situation are held accountable. That is what this settlement does,” Miller said. “The funds from this agreement will go a long way toward addressing Iowa’s opioid crisis and provide help to those who need it.”  

The agreement marks the culmination of three years of negotiations to resolve more than 4,000 claims of state and local governments across the country. It is the second largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, second only to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Fifty-two states and territories have signed on to the agreement as well as thousands of local governments across the country.  

In Iowa, all 99 counties, as well as 43 cities have signed onto the agreement. As a result, Iowa will receive its full share of the settlement. Over the course of 18 years, the state expects to receive $174 million, which will be split evenly between the state and local governments to abate the opioid crisis in Iowa.  

The AG’s office is working with partners —including the Iowa Department of Public Health, Department of Human Services, and University of Iowa Health Care— to determine use of the settlement funds.  

The Iowa Attorney General’s website offers additional information on the state’s opioid settlements and related resources for the public and local governments participating in the fund.  

In addition to the funds, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen will:  

  • Establish a centralized independent clearinghouse to provide all three distributors and state regulators with aggregated data and analytics about where drugs are going and how often, eliminating blind spots in the current systems used by distributors. 
  • Use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies. 
  • Terminate customer pharmacies’ ability to receive shipments, and report those companies to state regulators, when they show certain signs of diversion. 
  • Prohibit shipping of and report suspicious opioid orders. 
  • Prohibit sales staff from influencing decisions related to identifying suspicious opioid orders. 
  • Require senior corporate officials to engage in regular oversight of anti-diversion efforts. 

Johnson & Johnson is required to:  

  • Stop selling opioids. 
  • Not fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids. 
  • Not lobby on activities related to opioids. 
  • Share clinical trial data under the Yale University Open Data Access Project. 

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