In 2018, Florida sued 11 corporate entities for their wrongful conduct in the opioid epidemic crisis. The suit went to trial in April 2022 after four years of discovery. All the corporations involved settled in the pretrial phase but Walgreens. Eventually, Walgreens settled. Walmart approached the State and negotiated an additional settlement, even though the State has not sued Walmart.
Where are we now?
8 Final Settlements (2 nationwide, 6 Florida only)
1 Bankruptcy plan effective (Mallinckrodt)
1 Bankruptcy confirmation order on appeal (Purdue)
State and subdivisions will receive more than $3.1B over the next 17 years. Monies will likely exceed $3.2B with bankruptcy recoveries depending on the performance of the entities. Additionally, Florida will receive $84 million in Naloxone (opioid reversal drug) over the next 10 years distributed by Walmart.
The Defendants were most concerned about the city and county claims; due to this, an allocation agreement between cities and counties was developed.
An allocation agreement was negotiated into three funds: the State Fund, Regional Fund, and City/County Fund. All the funds may only be used to abate or remedy the opioid epidemic.
The legislature will control half of the proceeds and the counties/cities will control the other half of the funds.
1. State Fund (Legislature appropriates):
- 45% of the settlement funds increase over time to 55% of the funds in later time periods.
- Trust fund already created at DFS, need a trust fund created at DCF )
2. Regional/Abatement Fund:
- 40% of settlement proceeds drop over time to 30% of proceeds.
- Money handled two different ways:
- Qualified counties: large counties (populations greater than 300,000- applies to 15 counties). They receive the money directly.
- Non-qualified counties: Monies will be spent by legislature by region using SAMHSA regions.
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration) Regions:
3. City/County Fund:
- 15% of the Settlement proceeds goes to the cities and counties directly, they will determine how monies spent.
The states, counties, and cities developed a thirteen-page list of programs that are illustrative of the types of programs that can be funded with settlement funds. Covers mostly everything in prevention, treatment, and training of permissible uses of the funds.
To view the percentage breakdown in the regional % and the city/county fund %, please view Exhibit C, starting on page 30 of the Florida Opioid and Statewide Response Agreement, found here. Approved uses of funds can be found in Exhibit B, starting on page 19.
Current Legislation & Opioid Related Incidents in Florida
This week, both House and Senate committees introduced bills that would create Opioid Settlement Trust Funds within certain state agencies at the direction of the Attorney General’s office. The Senate bills establish Opioid Settlements Trust Funds within the Agency for Health Care Administration (SB 7028), the Department of Children and Families (SB 7030), the Department of Health (SB 7032), and the Department of Juvenile Justice (SB 7036). The House bills establish Opioid Settlements Trust Funds within the Department of Children and Families (HB 5301).
In 2021, the Department of Law Enforcement in their Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons Report, identified 8,411 opioid-related deaths were reported (7% increase from 2020) and 6,442 opioid-caused deaths were reported (6% increase from 2020). As the number of opioid-related and caused deaths continues to increase in Florida, it’s imperative for the settlement funds to be used effectively for life saving prevention and treatment.