Attorney General James And Mayor Adams Fight Opioid Crisis With First Of $256 Million In Payments From Harlem To Hollis

April 21, 2022

New York Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced the first of up to $256 million going to New York City.

Beginning this week, to combat the opioid crisis that continues to ravage communities across the city.

To address record overdose rates, New York City will receive $88.9 million this year — $11.5 million this week alone — to fund opioid prevention and treatment programs in all five boroughs.

The funds are the first round of payments from the $1.5 billion that Attorney General James has secured for the state from the historic settlements with manufacturers and distributors of opioids.

New York City will receive up to $256 million in total over the years as part of these settlements for opioid abatement.

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“Pharmaceutical companies that flooded New York communities with opioids are finally paying for the harm and devastation they caused,” said Attorney General James. “For far too long, opioid makers and distributors created more pain and suffering than they claimed to cure. The settlements my office secured from these companies are a result of our unwavering commitment to hold the powerful accountable and protect New Yorkers. Mayor Adams has been a dedicated partner in this fight, and we will not rest until our communities are free from the scourge of opioids. The money distributed today will help us turn the tide on the opioid crisis and ensure that every New Yorker struggling with addiction gets the help they need.”

“Big Pharma raked in billions of dollars while people’s lives were lost and destroyed from opioids,” said New York City Mayor Adams. “One New Yorker dies from an opioid overdose every four hours. Too many New Yorkers have suffered from death and addiction and too many families and communities have been torn apart. It’s time to end this public health crisis, and the $256 million New York City will be receiving thanks to Attorney General James’ good work will be critical in funding opioid treatment programs, education efforts, and other support programs across all five boroughs. This money will help us save lives and I thank Attorney General James for her partnership in fighting to end the opioid crisis.”

Today’s payments are the first of many to New York City to tackle the opioid crisis. The first payments come from settlements with opioid distributors — AmerisourceBergen Corporation, Cardinal Health, Inc., and McKesson Corporation.

Later this year, New York City will receive additional payments from the settlements with Endo Health Solutions, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan.

As a result of Attorney General James’ historic opioid settlements, New York City will receive $88,943,457.57 in 2022 and up to $256,458,972.37 over the course of the payout of the different settlements.

More funds could possibly be awarded from a trial victory against Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, where a dollar figure has not yet been determined.

Today’s announcement also goes hand-in-hand with an announcement made by U.S. President Joseph Biden, where he reiterated his commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic.

The new strategy announced today tackles two major drivers of overdoses — untreated addiction and drug trafficking — and seeks to remove barriers to effective treatment, as well as to harm reduction services.

At the same time, the president’s strategy lays out actions that will disrupt drug traffickers’ financial networks, supply chains, and delivery routes.

“We have lost too many New Yorkers — family members, friends, and neighbors — to overdose,” said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “It’s critical that we continue to invest in bold and innovative solutions to this crisis and help more New Yorkers get connected to harm reduction and treatment services. I thank Attorney General James and Mayor Adams for their leadership on this important public health issue.”

“Attorney General James and Mayor Eric Adams have long fought to address the opioid epidemic that has ravaged this city, and I’m thankful for this settlement that will go to help our patients,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals. “From our Street Health Outreach and Wellness vans to our inpatient behavioral health services, we take care of all New Yorkers no matter where they are and offer whatever treatment they need.”

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) recently released data showing a record number of overdose deaths citywide in the first two quarters of 2021, which also match nationwide trends. Funds from these opioid settlements will help support citywide prevention and treatment programs for all New Yorkers.

“Opioid manufacturers are mass scale drug dealers that have gotten away with creating the worst epidemic in recent history,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “No amount of money will undo the immeasurable harm they’ve cost New York families, but $256 million is a good place to begin. Attorney General James and Mayor Adams are slowly turning around New York City’s opioid crisis with this new funding, which is rightfully paid for by the manufacturers and distributors themselves.”

“I cannot commend Attorney General James enough for her steadfast leadership in securing settlements from opioid manufacturers that levied incalculable harm in our city,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “These settlement funds will be critical in helping our city heal by expanding harm reduction and overdose prevention services to address the opioid overdose crisis.”

“The funding to help New Yorkers cope with the opioid crisis abatement announced today by Attorney General James and Mayor Adams will support education, prevention, harm reduction, and other important public health efforts,” said State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried. “It’s only fair that the cost of this settlement is borne by the very drug companies that over-marketed opioids to millions, and I salute the attorney general’s leadership in defending the public interest.”

“The opioid epidemic is far from over as a major public health crisis in New York City and has only intensified during the pandemic,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “These funds will save lives and will give New York City desperately needed resources to prevent opioid overdoses and get people effective treatment. This historic settlement finally held corporations accountable for their role in creating this public health crisis and the first installment couldn’t come soon enough to mitigate further harm caused by this tragic addiction crisis. I want to thank Attorney General James and Mayor Adams for their tireless work in securing and dispersing these funds.”

“As someone who’s worked in the health care profession, I’ve witnessed firsthand the need for addiction services in this city — especially for our homeless population,” said New York City Councilmember Joann Ariola. “This abatement will provide the necessary programming needed to treat the disease that is plaguing so many New Yorkers.”

“The opioid epidemic is among the greatest public health crises facing New York City, and we need every tool available to increase access to the services that can provide safe treatment options and help end addiction,” said New York City Councilmember Carlina Rivera. “I am grateful to Attorney General Letitia James for her fierce advocacy, and for continuing to stand up to some of the biggest corporations on behalf of all of the people of New York. These funds will save countless lives, and give our city the resources we so urgently need to combat this crisis.”

“The opioid crisis destroyed lives,” said New York City Councilmember Erik Bottcher. “Greedy corporations made fortunes off of the pain and suffering of New Yorkers. I’m grateful that Attorney General James was able to hold them accountable and that Mayor Adams is working to help those same New Yorkers.”

“My very first law I got passed as a councilmember was about fighting the opioid epidemic in our city,” said New York City Councilmember Justin Brannan. “Attorney General Letitia James is showing us exactly how it should be done: Hold the companies who have profited off this crisis accountable, take back the money they’ve made off others pain, and use it to protect our most affected and vulnerable. I am proud of this win for New York, and in partnership with the mayor and our colleagues, I will make sure New York City’s share of this money reaches the most effective and needed lifesaving programs and services.”

“New Yorkers take care of each other. I’m grateful that Attorney General James was able to hold corporations that profited off the pain of New Yorkers accountable, and I’m proud that Mayor Adams is working to help those same New Yorkers now,” said New York City Councilmember Gale Brewer.

“This funding for opioid abatement is one of the most significant investments we have seen to reduce the dangerous impacts of opioids in our city,” said New York City Councilmember Eric Dinowitz. “In particular, the Bronx has struggled with opioid-related overdoses and deaths, and it has put undue pain on our communities. I am heartened to see the benefits of Attorney General James’ hard work to hold opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable and now use those funds to prevent future tragedies. New Yorkers deserve opportunities for treatment, recovery, and prevention.”

“Despite not receiving mainstream media attention, Black and Brown communities have been harmed by opioid abuse for years. I am thrilled to see increased funding for opioid abatement efforts throughout New York state,” said New York City Councilmember Rita Joseph. “It’s the least our communities deserve after the years of harm that opioids have caused.”

“The ongoing opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc on families across the city, and we need to hold the companies who started the crisis accountable for what they did,” said New York City Councilmember Linda Lee. “Every dollar that can be secured from settlements and put to good use saving lives and combatting addiction will prevent future suffering for New Yorkers amidst this crisis. Thank you to the leadership of Attorney General Letitia James and Mayor Eric Adams for securing and allocating these life-saving funds for opioid education, treatment, and recovery that will impact so many across our city. “

“I applaud Attorney General Letitia James and Mayor Eric Adams’s commitment to funding opioid abatement efforts and reinvesting in our hardest-hit communities. Even though compensation will not replace the lives lost, this investment from the nation’s most extensive lawsuit will be vital in combating this epidemic,” said New York City Councilmember Julie Menin.

“It will take decades to heal the wounds caused by the perpetrators of the opioid crisis, but these settlements mark a step toward justice,” said New York City Councilmember Chi Osse. “I applaud Attorney General James for securing these funds and look forward to them going toward righting wrongs, saving lives, and building a stronger New York.”

“As opioid deaths reach historic highs in New York City, we must take immediate action to prevent any more tragedies,” said New York City Councilmember Keith Powers. “I’m proud to have sponsored legislation in the council protecting New Yorkers against overdoses, and this funding will build on that progress by providing high-quality opioid treatment, recovery, and support services. I commend Attorney General James and Mayor Adams for prioritizing this issue and working to protect New Yorkers.”

“I would like to thank our attorney general, Letitia James, for her continuous dedication to seeking well-deserved justice in our city,” said New York City Councilmember Althea Stevens. “Justifying the malpractice of the opioid industry in our community is vital as it has negatively impacted New Yorkers for way too long. Ensuring that funds are secured for settlements is important as it is the first step to holding the opioid industry accountable and points us in the right direction for the future of our city.”

“Opioids have ravaged our country and taken too many lives,” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velazquez. “I commend the efforts of the Attorney General Letitia James in holding opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable for their role in perpetuating this epidemic, and Mayor Adams for utilizing this funding to support our communities and help those who suffer from addiction to heal.”

In March 2019, Attorney General James filed the nation’s most extensive lawsuit to hold accountable the various manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid epidemic

The manufacturers named in the complaint included Purdue Pharma and its affiliates, as well as members of the Sackler Family (owners of Purdue) and trusts they control; Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its affiliates (including its parent company Johnson & Johnson); Mallinckrodt LLC and its affiliates; Endo Health Solutions and its affiliates; and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and its affiliates.

The distributors named in the complaint were McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation, and Rochester Drug Cooperative Inc.  

In December 2021, Attorney General James scored a court victory against Teva Pharmaceuticals USA after a jury found the company and its affiliates liable for violating New Yorkers’ rights

A subsequent trial will now be held to determine how much Teva and others will be required to pay, which will be added to the up to $1.5 billion Attorney General James has already secured for the state of New York from different opioid manufacturers and distributors. 

In September 2021, Attorney General James secured $50 million from Endo for New York state and Nassau and Suffolk counties to combat the opioid crisis and removed the opioid manufacturer from New York’s ongoing opioid trial

In July 2021, Attorney General James secured a settlement with McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen that will deliver up to $1 billion to New York state to combat the opioid epidemic

In June 2021, Attorney General James announced a settlement that will deliver $230 to New York and end Johnson & Johnson’s sale of opioids nationwide.  

The cases against Mallinckrodt, Purdue Pharma, and Rochester Drug Cooperative are now moving separately through U.S. Bankruptcy Court. 

This matter was handled by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy, Senior Advisor and Special Counsel M. Umair Khan, Director of Legal Initiatives Erica Gilles, and Assistant Attorneys General Carol Hunt and Noah Popp. The settlement was also brought about by the work led by Senior Enforcement Counsel John Oleske and Special Counsel Monica Hanna, as well as Assistant Attorneys General Conor Duffy, Diane Johnston, Leo O’Toole, Jeremy Pfetsch, Larry Reina, Michael Reisman, Lois Saldana, and Louis Testa; Project Attorneys Wil Handley, Stephanie Torre, and Eve Woodin; Paralegals Ketty Dautruche and Christine Reynolds; Legal Assistant David Payne; Director of Research and Analytics Jonathan Werberg; Data Scientist Gautam Sisodia; Data Analyst Anushua Choudhury; Information Technology Specialists Hewson Chen and Paige Podolny; E-Discovery Document Review Specialist Kristin Petrella; and former Counsel for Opioids and Impact Litigation David Nachman. 

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