Montague to net $61K through settlement with opioid companies

  • Montague Town Hall. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • This file photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen. AP File Photo/Patrick Sison

Staff Writer
Published: 5/10/2022 5:43:13 PM

MONTAGUE — The state will distribute $61,272 to Montague from 2022 through 2038 as part of a $26 billion settlement with opioid distributors and manufacturers, Town Administrator Steve Ellis told the Selectboard on Monday.

The money, Ellis wrote in an email to Selectboard Clerk Matt Lord, is “not much to work with and likely a candidate for pooling resources with other (Franklin County) communities to try to create enough funding to do something meaningful.”

Montague would receive its largest annual share in its first year, with $6,890 expected to be delivered “as soon as July 2022,” Ellis said, before the annual funding amount “kind of ping-pongs” for the remaining period. Given the small amount of money the town is set to receive, the Selectboard expressed agreement that Franklin County towns should band together for some sort of regional spending plan.

The neighboring communities of Gill and Wendell are among other local towns to sign onto the settlement. Wendell is set to receive $2,209 over the 16-year period, equating to about $138 per year, it was announced in March.

The settlement, announced by state Attorney General Maura Healey on July 21, 2021, set Massachusetts up to receive more than $500 million, according to a statement from Healey’s office. The agreement was made with Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen — the nation’s largest drug distributors — and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids. The agreement, according to Healey’s office, would resolve investigations and litigation over the companies’ roles in creating and fueling the opioid epidemic.

The three distributors will collectively pay up to $21 billion over 18 years, while Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years. Up to $3.7 billion will be paid during the first three years. In addition to Massachusetts, state negotiations were led by the attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.

When Montague initially considered opting into the program in December 2021, “there (was) no expectation that Montague would ever receive any money,” as articulated previously by Lord. Regardless of being unsure about any payout, Lord said, participation would be low-risk and high-reward, considering the town would be otherwise unlikely to take any individual action against the opioid companies.

Lord also previously said the town will likely work collaboratively with Healey’s office on a spending plan, as the state has the final say in how the town may spend its settlement money.

“This money will have only very specific purposes to which it can be put to use,” Ellis said on Monday. “We’ll look forward to seeing the details of those rules and trying to figure out as a community or as a region how the money can best be leveraged.”

“Hopefully,” added Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz, “this funding maybe can somehow be combined regionally to really pay some benefits for the impacts.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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