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County, city to receive opioid settlement funds

Stephens County is set to receive state funding and support from the over $290 million Texas Johnson & Johnson opioid settlement.

According to the settlement, 70% of the money will go to the Texas Opioid Abatement Fund through the Texas Opioid Council, which will approve strategies for reducing opioid abuse. Of the remaining funds, 15% will go to the Texas Office of the Attorney General and 15% will go to cities, counties and similar entities.

Matthew Daniel spoke to Stephens County Commissioners last week about the settlement. Daniel is a partner in Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough’s pharmaceutical litigation section.

“What I’m here today asking you for is to agree to this (Johnson & Johnson) settlement and the structure of the settlement that we are using for most states nationwide. And Texas actually invented this. It was 15% to the AG, 15% to the counties in cash and 70% was abatement funds. The good news in all of this is we have already achieved our largest goal. We have greatly reduced the spread of opioids in the communities. When you go to the dentist, you no longer get 30 days of OxyContin for a root canal. That doesn’t happen anymore. Doctors are being educated, nurses are being educated. Those things are no longer happening. These pills are finally being tracked the way they were intended to be tracked initially. And so we’ve honestly achieved our primary goal of getting these things off the streets and stop making accidental addicts. Because the typical story, and every time I present in public, (is) some mom comes and cries on my shoulder and talks about their son that was playing soccer, their daughter who was a cheerleader (and) hurt a knee, went to the hospital, had surgery, got 30 days of OxyContin and a year later they are on heroin because they got addicted and they started moving up the ladder,” Daniel said. “(...) Fifteen years from now we are going to be looking back at this saying this is like the cessation of smoking efforts we made and it had a huge effect. And I think we’ve won in my opinion, but now we get a little bit of financial remuneration for it and now the county has the opportunity to apply for a lot more funds than just the $9,000 that’s coming into its pocket. There’s a lot more out there.”

Daniel said the settlement has only occurred in Texas with a number of defendants. Those defendants are drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies. He spoke to the commissioners Monday, Nov. 8 regarding a nationwide settlement with J&J and their subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

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