PHOENIX — Maricopa County has become the first local government in Arizona to sign onto a massive settlement agreement with pharmaceutical companies over the nation’s opioid epidemic.
The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the settlement, which is expected to bring the county about $80 million of Arizona’s anticipated allocation, which could reach $550 million or more.
In Arizona, the state, all 15 counties and nearly 100 cities and towns can sign on to the $26 billion settlement between pharmaceutical companies and government entities around the country. The settlement involving Johnson & Johnson as well as three pharmaceutical distributors was announced last summer. The money must be used to address costs associated with the opioid epidemic.
Nothing can compensate for the pain caused by opioid addiction and death, but the settlement money can help alleviate the burden on taxpayers, Maricopa County Attorney Alister Adel said in a news conference.
“Throwing money at a problem doesn’t just fix it, but it does get our community off on a journey now to get us that much closer to healing the devastation,” Adel said.
By signing onto the national settlement, Maricopa County agrees to drop its own lawsuit against the pharmaceutical companies. The county has not settled with Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, which is in bankruptcy proceedings.