Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul holds a press conference Friday to announce final approval of a national $26 billion opioid settlement agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors. | Provided Photo

Illinois will receive $760 million, with Lake County receiving nearly $8 million, to combat the opioid epidemic after a $26 billion settlement was finalized with drug distributors and a manufacturer.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul held a press conference Friday to announce final approval of a national $26 billion opioid settlement agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – and one manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson.

The companies will start releasing funds to a national administrator in April. States and local governments will start receiving funds during the second quarter of this year.

“This historic agreement is the result of years of tireless work by attorneys in my office, and I am pleased that Illinois will soon receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturers that funneled high volumes of addictive opioids into our communities,” Raoul said.

“From the start, I have prioritized securing resources to abate the impact the opioid epidemic has had throughout Illinois. I am committed to ensuring the money we secured through the settlement is distributed equitably to fund critical recovery and treatment programs in the counties and municipalities with the most urgent need,” Raoul said.

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The historic agreement marks 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, according to the attorney general’s office.

Illinois is one of 52 states and territories that have joined the agreement along with thousands of local governments across the country.

In Illinois, 94 out of 102 counties have signed onto the agreement. In addition, 104 out of 113 Illinois municipalities that are eligible to receive a direct distribution from the settlements have joined.

Illinois will be receiving $760 million to counteract the impact of the opioid epidemic.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart speaks during a press conference Friday where Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced final approval of a national $26 billion opioid settlement agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors. | Provided Photo

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart also attended and spoke at the Friday press conference.

“Today is an important day for Lake County. This settlement will help us move forward in fighting this public health crisis that has impacted all communities regardless of location, race, or economics,” Rinehart said.

“Now, because of Attorney General Raoul’s work, we can strengthen the work of local organizations like the Lake County Opioid Initiative and lessen the impacts of this epidemic in every corner of the county,” Rinehart said.

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Lake County is expected to receive direct payments totaling nearly $8 million dollars over the next 18 years.

The payments are scheduled to begin this summer and will be distributed by the Lake County Board.

Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, Board Chair of Lake County Opioid Initiative, said more than 430 people have died in Lake County from drug overdoses since January 2018 when the lawsuit began.

“Make no mistake: the opioid overdose epidemic has come with catastrophic consequences, with the most devastating being the mass loss of life among Lake County families. Days like today remind me of the power that advocates have in pursuing justice on behalf of communities that have been significantly harmed,” Barnes said.

“We applaud Attorney General Raoul and Lake County State’s Attorney Rinehart for their dedication to pursuing even an ounce of retribution that will come with funding to provide services, supports, and safety for years to come. We can’t turn back the clock, but we can prevent further damage through this funding,” Barnes added.

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As part of the settlement, Johnson & Johnson will be required to stop selling opioids, not be allowed to fund or provide grants to third parties for promoting opioids, and not lobby on activities related to opioids.

Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen will be required to 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.

The three distributors will be required to use data-driven systems to detect suspicious opioid orders from customer pharmacies. They will also be prohibited from shipping suspicious opioid orders.

Last month, McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally announced McHenry County would receive approximately $3.4 million as part of the settlement.

“No amount of money will ever be sufficient to reconcile the absolute desolation these companies have wrought in McHenry County and throughout the country,” Kenneally said in a statement.

“This is, however, a first step to holding accountable these loathsome industries that put self-serving deception over medical truth and corporate profit over human life,” he said.