By Adam Swift
ROWLEY – The town has signed onto the $26 billion resolution with opioid manufacturers and distributors that was announced earlier this year.
The settlement could bring funds into the town for such uses as purchasing Narcan for the police and fire departments as well as educational materials for the schools, according to selectmen Chairman Clifford Pierce.
Town Administrator Deborah Eagan was contacted by state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office about signing onto the settlement participation agreement.
“The state settlement with the companies provides funds to the state and to municipalities that sign onto the settlement agreement,” said Pierce. “The attorney general says that even if the town did not have any direct impact with the opioid distribution companies named in the lawsuit, the town is still eligible to participate and the town can receive a portion of the state settlement fund that can be used to abate the opioid crisis in the town.”
Pierce said Fire Chief James Broderick, Police Chief Scott Dumas, and Health Director Frank Marchegiani all support the request.
The multi-state, $26 billion resolution was announced earlier this year, and could bring as much as $500 million to Massachusetts, according to Healey.
Rowley selectmen unanimously approved signing onto the settlement at its Dec. 13 meeting.
The agreement includes Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s largest drug distributors – and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids. The resolution also requires significant industry changes that will help prevent this type of crisis from ever happening again, according to Healey.
“I promised the people of Massachusetts that the opioid crisis would be a top priority, that we would hold the bad actors accountable, and that the billion-dollar companies who got rich off the suffering in our communities would pay,” said Healey. “This money will benefit every city and town in every part of our state.”
As part of the settlement, the three distributors will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years, while Johnson & Johnson will pay up to $5 billion over nine years. The total funding distributed will be determined by the overall degree of participation by both litigating and non-litigating state and local governments.
In Massachusetts, Healey has stated that she will work to ensure that all of the money will be spent on opioid treatment and prevention.
On Dec. 16, Healey announced another settlement in an opioid-related case. Collegium Pharmaceutical, Inc. agreed to pay $185,000 and stop marketing its opioids through in-person detailing of Massachusetts prescribers and speaker programs with healthcare professionals, resolving allegations of unfair and deceptive practices.
According to Healey’s office, Collegium sales representatives misled doctors about the potential risks of the drug by marketing it as a safe and responsible alternative to other opioids, even though Xtampza has the same active ingredient (oxycodone) as other drugs like Oxycontin.
“Drug companies should not be going into doctors’ offices deceptively marketing addictive drugs as we work to combat a growing opioid epidemic in our state,” said Healey. “Our resolution with Collegium will put an end to these marketing tactics and provide much-needed resources for treatment and recovery.”