OSWEGO COUNTY – Having suffered through years of what has undeniably been an opioid crisis, the county may soon see its first installment of a court-ordered settlement with manufacturers and distributors of opioids, plus chain pharmacies, worth between $2.3 million to almost $4.1 million spread over 18 years, all of which must be used for opioid remediation.
A resolution to accept the settlement and drop all further claims will be voted on by the County Legislature at its Sept. 9 meeting. Acceptance of the settlement has been recommended by County Attorney Richard Mitchell and the Legislature’s Government, Courts, and Consumer Affairs Committee.
This settlement is specifically referred to as the Distributors New York Settlement Agreement and specifically targets McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Corp. and its terms are intended to parallel the wider Distributor Global Settlement Agreement currently under negotiation. According to the 215-page New York Settlement Agreement, New York intends to join the Global Settlement, which should it become effective by July 1, 2022, will supersede the terms of the New York Settlement Agreement for the most part. Its global payout could amount to $18.6 billion. New York state would receive 5.39% of that amount, equaling approximately $1 billion, plus an additional $27.5 million in restitution.
The total payout to New York state under the New York Settlement Agreement would be close to that under the Global Settlement. There may be differences in the payment of attorneys’ fees, worth many millions, and other factors.
According to the Settlement document, “the Settling Distributors have agreed to its terms for the sole purpose of settlement, and nothing herein may be taken as or construed to be an admission or concession of any violation of law, rule, or regulation, or of any other matter of fact or law, or of any liability or wrongdoing, all of which the Settling Distributors expressly denies.”
The Distributors will be under strict guidelines regarding their ability to make the annual installment payments required. No deferment of payments will be allowed in the first three years of payments. After that, strict rules apply and certain proof of a distributor’s inability to pay must be provided. The distributor’s buyback of its stock shares or the acquisition of other assets will not be allowed as an excuse for an inability to pay, nor will it be allowed during the period of a payment deferral. If a distributor is able to only pay part of its annual installment, it must pay that and defer the rest. Anything deferred must be repaid in the next year with interest.