Opioid Litigation: NC MOA and National Settlement

Municipalities signed: Albemarle, Asheville, Burlington, Cary, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Concord, Cornelius, Durham, Eden, Fayetteville, Fontana Dam, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Gastonia, Goldsboro, Greensboro, Greenville, Hickory, High Point, Holly Springs, Huntersville, Indian Trail, Lake Santeetlah, Lumberton, Matthews, Monroe, Mooresville, Morganton, Newton, Raleigh, Reidsville, Robbinsville, Rocky Mount, Salisbury, Sanford, Summerfield, Wake Forest, Warrenton, Wilmington, Wilson, Winston-Salem

NC Memorandum of Agreement

Attorney General Josh Stein and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners unveiled a historic agreement to fight the opioid epidemic. The agreement governs how North Carolina would use the proceeds of any future national settlement or bankruptcy resolution with drug distributors Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen and opioid manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma. The potential opioid litigation settlement and resolutions could bring as much as $850 million to North Carolina over an 18-year period to support state and local efforts to address the epidemic.

To maximize funds flowing to North Carolina communities on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, the agreement would direct settlement funds as follows:

  • 15 percent to the state, which the General Assembly would appropriate to address the epidemic.
  • 80 percent to local governments, including all 100 counties and 17 municipalities.
  • An additional five percent to an incentive fund to encourage counties and large- and medium-size municipalities to sign on to the agreement.

In addition, the agreement offers a high level of transparency into how local governments will use the funds, including special revenue funds subject to audit, annual financial and impact reports, and a public dashboard showing how they are using settlement funds to address the epidemic.

National Settlement

After years of negotiations, two proposed nationwide settlement agreements have been reached that would resolve all opioid litigation brought by state and local governments against the three largest drug distributors, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen (“distributors”), and one manufacturer, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and its parent company Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”). 

The proposed settlements require that the distributors and J&J pay $26 billion over 18 years, with approximately $22.7 billion available to state and local governments to address the opioid epidemic.

The State of North Carolina has already approved and signed the settlements, making North Carolina local governments eligible to participate. The next step in this process is for local governments to sign on to the settlements by January 2, 2022. Go to the National Opioid Settlement Website for more information on how to sign on. If your county is represented by outside counsel with respect to opioid claims, please contact them to coordinate.

North Carolina stands to receive approximately $750 million through these settlements if all 100 counties and all municipalities with a population over 10,000 participate. These funds will be available starting in 2022 to support treatment, recovery, harm reduction, and other life-saving programs and services.

North Carolina’s share of settlement funds will be distributed among state and local governments as outlined in a Memorandum of Agreement that the state and more than 80 local governments have already joined. It is important to note signing onto the settlements is separate from signing onto the NC MOA. To clarify:

  • Signing on to the NC MOA means your county agrees how settlement funds will be distributed in North Carolina.
  • Signing on to the national settlement means your county agrees to the terms of the settlement and as a result, will not sue the distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, or J&J in the future.

If your county is represented by outside counsel with respect to opioid claims, please contact them to coordinate. In addition, feel free to email 555 Committee County Attorneys or NCACC Counsel with questions: Ron Aycock/Special Counsel-Person, Debra Bechtel/Special Counsel-Catawba, Misty Leland/Moore, Mark Payne/Guilford, Gordon Watkins/Forsyth, Amy Bason/NCACC Deputy Director and General Counsel.