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Idaho cities and counties consider joining state in opioid settlement

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Attorney General Office
Frankie Barnhill
/
Boise State Public Radio

Two national opioid settlements could bring Idaho millions of dollars for substance abuse and mental health services.

Local entities have until early January to join the state in settlements with opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and three major opioid distributors.

Idaho sued several pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid addiction crisis. Johnson & Johnson agreed to the $26 billion settlement this summer, but denies wrongdoing, according to reporting by NPR. Still, the agreement means J& J won't manufacture opioids anymore.

Idaho joined the settlements in September, and they could bring $120 million to the state, to be paid out over 18 years.

“That money will be going toward abating the effects of opioid withdrawal and addiction, and the challengers our first responders and law enforcement have had to deal with," said Brett DeLange, an Idaho deputy attorney general.

For Idaho to receive the full allotment, enough cities and counties need to sign on so that 60% of the state population is covered in the settlements. If there's not sufficient involvement, the more local bodies that join the agreement, the more money the state gets.

Twenty Idaho cities and counties are participating so far, as of last week. The Twin Falls City Council decided to sign on Monday.

“The city of Twin Falls certainly believes that this further negotiated settlement agreement is certainly in the best interest of not only our city, but all local governments," said City Attorney Shayne Nope.

He said that’s because, compared to the standard settlement agreement, Idaho negotiated for a larger share of the funds to go directly to the local level. 40% of the allocation will go to the state, 40% to participating counties and cities and 20% to public health districts.

J & J could make its first payment next summer.

Idaho is continuing to pursue deals with other manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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