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Cobb County Attorney William Rowling said joining a nationwide $26 billion settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three drug distributors would allow the county to support long-term opioid treatment programs.

MARIETTA — Cobb commissioners have agreed to support joining a settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three drug distributors that’s expected to pay out $26 billion for damages related to the opioid epidemic.

The vote on the settlement carried 4-1, and moves the county closer to receiving significant funds for addiction treatment and drug disposal programs.

County Attorney Bill Rowling told the Board of Commissioners the settlement “allows us to be able to tap into the resources of people who specifically work in this area … (and) to actually be able to build up a robust program that would be supported for a long period of time.”

Opposing the resolution was Commissioner Keli Gambrill, who said the lawsuit did “nothing to address how the opioids get onto the streets,” and further worried the county could be obligated to keep supporting programs after the settlement money ran out.

Chairwoman Lisa Cupid countered that the county had “an option to do something with resources, or to do nothing with resources.”

Johnson & Johnson will pay out $5 billion nationwide over the next 9 years, with distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson paying out a total of $21 billion over the next 18 years.

Cobb’s receipt of any money in the settlement, however, is still contingent on Georgia joining dozens of other states in the case. Attorney General Chris Carr said in August his office was still evaluating whether to sign on.

Georgia, should it join the settlement, could receive up to $630 million, per a news release from the county. Local governments would receive 25% of the funds, with the state receiving 75%. Cobb, however, would be eligible for additional relief as a regional center with over 400,000 residents.

Also part of the settlement, Rowling said, are injunctions against Johnson & Johnson to cease opioid production, release clinical trial data on opioid use, and end its lobbying efforts for opioid prescriptions.


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(1) comment

Laura Armstrong

Oh goody, let's get private corporations all entangled with our local governments even more. That will make the whole takeover so much easier. But no idividual is held responsible and the people won't get it when hanky panky with the dollars starts happening.

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