Home New mexico united New Mexico gets $195 million settlement from Big Pharma

New Mexico gets $195 million settlement from Big Pharma

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State to use most funds for opioid reduction programs in 50 crisis-affected communities

EL PASO, TX (Border report) – New Mexico is receiving $195.5 million from four pharmaceutical companies as part of a settlement related to the country’s opioid crisis.

Johnson & Johnson, which made generic opioid drugs, and wholesale drug distributors Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health and McKeeson, have agreed to settle the lawsuit brought by 23 states reeling from rising rates of opioid abuse and drug overdoses. More than 100,000 Americans died last year from drug overdoses, most involving synthetic opioids.

New Mexico will funnel $107 million over the next 18 years to local governments and keep $88 million for itself, with most of the funds going specifically to opioid reduction programs. A “significant” payout is coming in 2025, the state attorney general‘s office said.

“Reduction activities include everything from assisting with medication, to supporting treatment for (those) who may be chemically dependent, to extending treatment to those inside and outside the criminal justice system. training for law enforcement,” said Brian McMath, director of the Consumer and Environmental Protection Division of the New Mexico Attorney General’s office.

Brian McMath, Director of the Consumer and Environmental Protection Division of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office

Other funds will go towards educating the public about prescription drug abuse and purchasing opioid reversal medications. “These funds are not intended for just anything […] these funds are used to deal with the crisis,” McMath said.

The states’ federal lawsuit against the four companies was filed in Ohio, but New Mexico is seeking compensation from more than two dozen other companies. That dispute is set to go to trial in the state capital of Santa Fe in September.

The lawsuits center on the lack of warnings given to patients about how prescribed opioids can be addictive and dangerous. State officials say patients — and parents — also need to be careful with their prescription medications to keep others in the household from using opioids.

“If you have these drugs somewhere in a medicine cabinet, throw them away if you don’t take them and the prescription has expired. One of the main ways people get their hands on them is by finding them in a medicine cabinet,” McMath said. “We ask people to educate themselves about the risks and benefits of these substances and to maintain communication with their doctors.”

He said the attorney general’s office will continue to work with partners to ease the crisis and “begin to heal those wounds.”