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PA counties expected to receive payouts from nationwide opioid settlement

Each of Pennsylvania's 67 counties will receive at least $1 million dollars from a opioid settlement that implicates four pharmaceutical companies for their role in the nationwide epidemic.
Darwin Brandis / Getty Images
Each of Pennsylvania's 67 counties is expected to receive at least $1 million dollars from an opioid settlement that implicates four companies for their role in the nationwide epidemic.

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs announced that the commonwealth would receive over $1 billion from a $26 billion settlement with four companies over their role in the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties is expected to receive at least $1 million, but some will receive much more. Officials in Philadelphia County, for example, plan to see $186 million over 18 years from the settlement that was reached in April. Luzerne County is expected to receive the sixth largest payout in the commonwealth with more than $25 million. Lehigh County should receive over $17 million, the 10th largest PA county payout.

According to the Office of the PA Attorney General, it's the second largest state-level settlement in the commonwealth's history. Counties will receive 70% of each payout, with 15% going to the state, and 15% going to government entities litigating against the defendants.

Three pharmaceutical companies – Cardinal Health, McKesson Corporation, and AmerisourceBergen – and multinational corporation Johnson & Johnson agreed to payouts for their involvement in the opioid crisis. AmerisourceBergen is headquartered in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

Some areas will receive more from the settlement based on a metric that looks at overdose deaths, volume of opioid shipments, hospitalizations due to opioid use, and the amount of Naloxone or Narcan that was administered in each county. Funds must be used to combat the crisis, including addiction support services, treatment, and harm reduction.

Robert Frycklund, Carbon County Solicitor, said that along with Philadelphia and Delaware counties, Carbon County is considered a bellwether plaintiff in the settlement for their work in the litigation. An extra $30 million will be split among the three counties based on another metric.

“That additional portion will be equitably divided on the basis of a number of factors, including but not limited to their corresponding populations,” Frycklund said.

Carbon County is first expected to receive $5 million. Frycklund said the $30 million pool is “independent of and in addition to the overall settlement with the Commonwealth.”

Tom Riese is a multimedia reporter and the local host for NPR's Morning Edition. He comes to NEPA by way of Philadelphia. He is a York County native who studied journalism at Temple University.