Cheshire County to Join State in National Opioid Settlement | Local News

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Cheshire County plans to join New Hampshire in a $ 21 billion national opioid settlement with three big drug companies after the state announced its own intention to join on Tuesday night and invited dozens of municipalities to follow suit.

Keene is considering the matter, according to the city attorney.

“This settlement agreement is the result of years of hard work and dedication by attorneys at the New Hampshire Department of Justice and across the country,” NH Attorney General John Formella said in a press release. announcing the state’s plan to join the settlement.

Nationally, drug manufacturers and distributors have faced litigation accusing them of using deceptive marketing practices to push the use of prescription opioids for chronic pain, knowing that drugs are highly addictive.

The resulting increase in opioid availability, followed by heroin use by early prescription drug addicts, directly led to the nationwide spike in drug overdose deaths.

New Hampshire has been one of the hardest hit states during the opioid epidemic, with at least 3,600 drug-related deaths reported by authorities since 2011.

Three pharmaceutical companies – McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and Amerisource Bergen – are involved in the pending settlement, according to the press release Tuesday evening.

The settlement would require distributors to pay up to $ 21 billion over 18 years, of which approximately $ 115 million over that period is dedicated to New Hampshire. Most of the funds would be used for remediation and reducing the impact of the opioid epidemic, the statement said.

In addition, distributors would be required to monitor the marketing, sale and distribution of opioids, and also to implement additional safeguards to prevent abuse of prescription opioids.

Formella sent letters to the 28 counties and communities in Granite State that had filed their own opioid lawsuits, including Keene and Cheshire County, to see if they wanted to join the settlement. They have until January to decide, according to the letter.

Cheshire County had yet to receive the letter by Wednesday afternoon, but is ready to join once it does, according to County Administrator Chris Coates.

“We have already submitted everything we are supposed to submit,” he said.

Keene City attorney Thomas Mullins said the city has yet to review the details of the settlement, which is why it has yet to decide to join it.

In April 2018, Keene sued a dozen pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. City officials estimated in Keene’s initial filing in the U.S. District Court of Concord that the opioid crisis is costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in city services.

That litigation was almost immediately consolidated into a national multi-tort lawsuit, according to Mullins, which allows a group of lawyers to represent all involved.

All New Hampshire counties, including Cheshire, joined the national lawsuit that same year, Coates said.

If the national settlement is finalized, the statement said it would resolve all other opioid-related disputes against the three companies that would be part of the deal.

And if more communities join the national settlement, it “will maximize the amount paid to the state,” the statement said.

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