NEW JERSEY – An almost $4.5 billion multi-state legal settlement with the pharmaceutical company responsible for producing and promoting the addictive painkiller that helped fuel the rampant opioid epidemic will bring more than $110 million to New Jersey, and Senator Anthony Bucco is calling on Governor Murphy to ensure the money is used to fight addiction and save lives.
“In anticipation of this settlement which has been years in the making, both houses of the Legislature unanimously passed a bill establishing a framework for the use of opioid settlement funds to support addiction prevention and treatment programs,” Bucco (R-25) said. “That bill is sitting on the Governor’s desk, and I am hopeful he will not waste any time signing it so we can get the money out on the street, helping people and saving lives as soon as possible.”
Bucco is a sponsor of the bill, S-3867, that would establish the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund and a 13-member Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund Advisory Council.
Under the bill, money the state receives in a settlement would be deposited in the fund and specifically dedicated and used for the purposes of supplementing substance use disorder prevention and treatment programs and services consistent with the terms of settlements made in connection with claims arising from the manufacture, marketing, distribution or dispensing of opioids.
“This settlement money should be put to use immediately, helping mitigate some of the harm caused by the irresponsible promotion and marketing of OxyContin by Purdue Pharma,” Bucco said. “This is only a drop in the bucket compared to the damage done, so it is vital that we get the most out of every dollar to fight the epidemic and prevent more tragic outcomes. It is the right thing to do.”
A similar fund was created recently in New York state which requires settlement money to go into a new fund to ensure the proceeds go toward combating the opioid epidemic, Bucco said.
The agreement between 15 states, including New Jersey, and Purdue Pharma follows years of legal battles. A mediator’s report filed in federal court in New York revealed the deal, and the settlement is subject to the approval of the court.
“The opioid epidemic didn’t miss a beat during the pandemic, and there’s no time to waste,” Bucco said. “Utilized properly, this money will save lives and prevent tragedies that have become all too common in communities across our state.
“The Governor understands the urgency, and I’m hopeful he will work with the Legislature to ensure the money is disbursed responsibly so it can have the most impact and help the most people,” Bucco said.