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Dallas County agrees to $2.3 million to help fight opioid epidemic

A judge has ordered the release of a massive dataset giving a detailed picture of how opioid pills were distributed and sold from 2006-2012 as opioid addiction soared.

Dallas County commissioners have agreed to a $2.3 million settlement from Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical company, Janssen.

Wednesday's agreement is a part of a larger settlement amongst major pharmaceutical companies like Janssen, in an effort to combat the growing opioid epidemic.

The Dallas Commissioners Court voted 4-0, with one abstention, to accept the settlement from the company.

“People might not have thought it was going to happen to them, but they (Janssen) knew about the risk with opioids, the patients didn't know about the risk,” County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

“They were told by doctors — who also didn't know about the risk — that these drugs were good for them, and they would help them heal faster and would help alleviate their pain. But actually the drugs are not shown to be any more effective on pain than taking Aleve or ibuprofen,” Jenkins added.

Jenkins and the court are looking to put the money from both the county and statewide suits to use.

“Some of that money will be paid over to Dallas County immediately; the bulk of that money will go to the state,” he said. “Then we'll come back to the regions to focus on treating people with addiction and mental health care issues brought about by the opioid epidemic.”

Johnson & Johnson also agreed to pay the state more than $290 million by January.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the money is the state's share of a nationwide settlement for the company's role in the public health crisis. Seventy percent of the funding will be distributed through a statewide abatement fund.

"Fifteen percent will go to the subdivisions -- the counties and cities that are part of the litigation -- and then another 15% will go to the state, but most of it will go into an abatement fund," Paxton added.

Janssen is one of four pharmaceutical manufacturers who have been seeing suits from the state for the opioid epidemic, the other three being AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.

Paxton also said Texas is also expecting a settlement with three opioid distributors worth $1.2 billion.

Jenkins said opioids are so addictive, that people spend years buying more. “And that puts money in the pocket of these distributors.”

Got a tip? Email Haya Panjwani at hpanjwani@kera.org. Follow Haya on Twitter @hayapanjw.

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