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United Way of Lancaster County


County joins national opioid settlement; could secure up to $15.7 million for treatment, mitigation



Lancaster County took a step this week toward securing up to $15.7 million to combat opioid addiction.

The county commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to sign onto the national opioid settlement, a $26 billion multi-state deal to settle claims against pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson and three distributors, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen.

Pennsylvania was one of the lead states in negotiating the settlement and stands to receive up to $1 billion from it.

The deadline for cities and counties nationwide to opt into the settlement is Jan. 2. The extent of the participation will determine whether the settlement takes effect: Both sides have the option to pass on the agreement if they deem the numbers insufficient.

Participation also affects the amounts localities will receive if the settlement indeed goes through. Lancaster County can receive its maximum amount only if all 17 municipalities with populations above 10,000 sign onto the settlement by the Jan. 2 deadline, county Solicitor Jacqueline Pfursich said.

Broadly speaking, Lancaster County's participation entitles it to 70% of its potential allocation, Pfursich said. It will get another 20% with the participation of municipalities with populations over 30,000 — in Lancaster County's case, that means Lancaster city and Manheim Township — and the remaining 10% with the participation of the other 15 boroughs and townships.

Manheim Township commissioners will discuss the matter at their meeting Monday, township manager James Drumm said. Lancaster City Council President Ismail Smith-Wade-El said the council plans to consider a resolution accepting the settlement at its meeting Tuesday.

The proposed agreements would settle all claims by participating entities against J&J and the distributors. It would not preclude actions by private entities or individuals or actions against other opioid producers or distributors.

Settlement payments are to go toward "approved abatement uses," including opioid addiction treatment and recovery and education and prevention efforts.

The funds would have great potential to help the community, Commissioner Ray D'Agostino said, suggesting that if it is received, the county consider forming a committee to decide how best to deploy it.

(Editor's Note: This story was updated to add information from Manheim Township Manager James Drumm.)