Jul 1, 2022 - News

Opioid settlement money starts to flow to Minnesota

Data: Minnesota Department of Health; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Hundreds of millions of dollars stemming from a major settlement related to the opioid epidemic will begin flowing to Minnesota this month.

The big picture: Minnesota's state and local governments are set to see $300 million over the next 18 years as part of a 46-state, $26 billion settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three other drug companies. That settlement was finalized in February.

  • The first payments, estimated to total $66 million, should arrive this month, according to the attorney general's office.

Why it matters: The opioid epidemic has had far-reaching impacts for families and communities across the state.

  • More than 5,000 people have died of overdoses in Minnesota since 2000, per MDH. Thousands of additional people overdose and survive each year.

Details: More than 200 local governments in Minnesota signed on to the agreement. Officials say 75% of the $300 million will go directly to local governments and 25% will go to the state.

  • A memorandum of agreement outlines a "pretty comprehensive" list of uses, including prevention, education and treatment, assistant Attorney General Eric Maloney said at a recent news conference highlighting legislation distributing the settlement funds.

What they're saying: "We're making sure that these dollars go where the pain is, not just the high population centers," Attorney General Keith Ellison said. "Because we know the suffering is happening in every corner of this state.

"What's next: Minnesota Association of Counties' Angie Thies said that local public health departments are already working with partners to "identify the needs locally that are evidence-based and we know will have a local impact."

What to watch: Other lawsuits remain outstanding, meaning there could be additional settlements.

The bottom line: Reed Holtum said while the money is a first step, the addiction crisis "will not end with this generation or the next generation."

  • "This will be decades to come to clean this up. So while $300 million sounds like a lot of money, it is not. It's nowhere near enough to create the solutions."
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