NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana will disperse hundreds of millions of dollars across the state to help fight the opioid epidemic. The money comes from a historic settlement with companies in the drug industry.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry stood alongside St. Bernard pharmacist Dan Schneider from the Netflix series 'The Pharmacist' Wednesday to discuss how the state will use the settlement "People hurting from addiction will have more and better access to treatment and recovery resources," Landry said.
Landry said 100 percent of the funds will be dispersed to political subdivisions like parishes and cities that will use the money to help addicts.
"This is a day to celebrate. I mean it's never enough for what I'm shooting for, but it's a start," Schneider said.
Three of the nations largest drug distribution companies (AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson), and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson agreed to the $26 billion settlement of lawsuits over the opioid crisis. Multiple states are included and Louisiana is receiving $325 million from the settlement.
"The distributors were supposed to monitor the drugs that were being distributed. The reason they're having to put up money now and the reason we sued them is they didn’t pay attention to the job they were doing. They were required by the DEA to notify the DA when they had unusual shipments to certain, particular locales. They did not do that," Schneider said Wednesday ahead of the press conference with the Attorney General.
Louisiana will receive the funds over an 18 year period. That's $18 million a year. Following certain criteria, political subdivisions will determine how exactly to spend the money they get on treatment and resources for addicts.
"Hopefully it's a step," Landry said.
In July, the drug companies involved released a joint statement explaining that while the companies strongly dispute the allegations made in the lawsuits, they believe the settlement will provide meaningful relief.