Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. (Photo: Missouri Attorney General’s Office)

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The city of Springfield and Greene County are two of the participants in a major legal settlement between state and municipal governments and opioid drug manufacturers.

The resulting settlement money should bring about $458 million into Missouri for the treatment and prevention of opioid abuse.

How much money will come to Greene County as a result of the settlement is unknown, but the attorney general’s office put out an initial estimate of $988,622. 

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Feb. 18 that his office finalized the settlements with Johnson & Johnson and major distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen.

“For years, the state of Missouri has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic, entire communities and neighborhoods crushed under the weight of opioid addiction and abuse,” Schmitt said. “Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and more have been lost to this vicious cycle. This settlement won’t bring our loved ones back; it won’t provide any solace for those losses, but it can bring desperately needed resources to treatment centers, rehab facilities, law enforcement and others who are on the frontlines of fighting this opioid epidemic in our state.”

On Dec. 21, 2021, the Springfield City Council held a special session and approved the city’s participation in the settlement.

Opioids, which include heroin and prescription painkillers such as morphine and hydrocodone, affect the part of the brain that controls breathing. An overdose can lead to respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest. Opioid dependency across the United States has triggered a national crisis. In response, the city of Springfield filed litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors. More than 3,000 cases were combined in the opioid multi-district litigation. On July 21, 2021, the plaintiffs’ executive committee in the lawsuit announced the terms of a global settlement agreement with opioid manufacturer Janssen, plus three prescription drug distributors. 

In July of 2021, 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.

“We aggressively pursued counties and political subdivisions to unlock the full amount of the potential settlement. Now, I’m pleased to deliver this historic, victim-centric settlement to help fund opioid abatement and treatment efforts across the state,” Schmitt said.

The Johnson & Johnson and Distributor settlement brings an estimated $458 million, with roughly $274.8 million going to the state of Missouri, and $183.2 million going to cities and counties within the state that signed on to join the lawsuit.

These settlements will be paid out over a term of 18 years on a graduated scale that pays larger sums in early years. The annual payout decreases over time.

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