Oxycontin tablets. (Photo: U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency)

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Greene County stands to receive about $1.9 million over the next 18 years from a drug company settlement with the state of Missouri.

The Greene County Commission announced some terms of a settlement between the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and Johnson & Johnson on March 4. The pharmaceutical company will pay the state about $274.8 million and will pay $183.2 million to city and county governments that agreed to join a lawsuit against the drug manufacturer in 2021.

In July of 2021, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced a preliminary settlement in the state’s opioid litigation against Johnson & Johnson and major opioid distributors. In order to obtain the full amount of money available from the settlement, the attorney general sought for all of Missouri’s counties and several cities to agree to sign on and join in the lawsuit.

The Greene County Commission approved this agreement. However, this proposed settlement does not guarantee an exact funding distribution. In addition to this settlement, attorneys for Greene County anticipate more funding from settlement agreements with the Purdue and Mallinckrodt bankruptcies, as well as additional settlements from other defendants that manufacture opioids. 

“The commission has taken this next step as part of its efforts to mitigate the damage done to  the people of our community as a result of over prescribing and irresponsible use of prescription drugs. We will continue our efforts,” Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon said.

The settlement agreement calls for Greene County to be paid $2,117,470 minus a 9-percent attorney fee over 18 years. After the attorney fees, the settlement comes out to $1,926,897.70.

Opioids, which include heroin and prescription painkillers such as morphine, oxycontin and hydrocodone, affect the part of the brain that controls breathing. An opioid overdose can lead to cardiac arrest and can cause a person to stop breathing. Opioid dependency and addictions across the United States have triggered an ongoing national crisis. 

As part of a national settlement, Johnson & Johnson will contribute up to $5 billion to the nationwide settlement, which is designed to directly support state and local efforts to address the opioid crisis. 

“This settlement agreement is not an admission of any liability or wrongdoing,” a statement from Johnson & Johnson reads, “and the company will continue to defend against any litigation that this final settlement agreement does not resolve. The company no longer sells prescription opioid medications in the United States as part of our ongoing efforts to focus on transformational innovation and serving unmet patient needs.”

In 2021, the Springfield Police Department responded to 566 calls for service involving overdoses. Sixty-one people died of opioid overdoses in Springfield in 2021.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, “Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic and historically has been a popular drug of abuse among the narcotic abusing population.”

Police advise anyone taking prescription medications to only obtain them from a licensed medical prescriber or pharmacy.

Rance Burger

Rance Burger is the managing editor for the Daily Citizen. He previously covered local governments from February 2022 to April 2023. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 17 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger