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Summit County

Summit County to see $1.3M from opioid settlement

Court, courtroom, law.
Adobe Stock
Court, courtroom, law.

Utah stands to receive $266 million from the partial settlement of an opioid-related lawsuit. $1.3 million of that is headed to Summit County.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office last week announced a settlement with four defendants in a massive, nationwide lawsuit against the opioid industry.

Summit County is one of 27 of the 29 Utah counties that signed on to the deal. The settlement is worth $26 billion, with $266 million awarded to Utah. Of that, half goes to local communities like Summit County and the other half goes to the state.

The money will be dispersed over 18 years. Summit County’s total is just less than $1.3 million, or about $57,000 per year.

Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson called it “a good start.”

Margaret Olson

She said she hoped to have a seat at the table with state officials to advocate that more of the settlement money go to counties, which provide local health services.

This settlement was reached with four defendants: Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson.

Summit County’s outside counsel, Walter Mason, said there are around 50 defendants total, and that the rest of the lawsuit continues to proceed.

Mason said the settlement was with some of the industry’s “big players.” The four that settled, he said, account for less than half of the combined market share of the defendants.

Mason called the settlement a “step toward justice.”

“We are in the middle of a long process nationally, and a long conversation nationally, about the role of these corporations in the opioid epidemic,” Mason said. “This conversation is far from over. There are still many participants who have yet to answer for their role and many communities across the country who have not been compensated.”

In 2018, Summit County was the first county in Utah to file suit against members of what it called "Big Pharma" and members of the opioid industry.

Olson said county officials hadn’t yet met to decide how to use the settlement funds, which must be spent to abate the opioid epidemic.

She said, as an example, the county could fund a detox center, but said those decisions would be made in close communication with the Health Department.

Olson said the money is a “step in the right direction.”

“(It’s) never going to be able to remediate the damage that has been done,” she said. “There were lives lost, and there’s no price tag we can put on that.”