Wisconsin legislators to consider opioid settlement payout

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin legislators are poised to accept the state’s share of a settlement stemming from another multistate lawsuit accusing drug manufacturers and distributors of contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis.

A coalition of states and local governments secured settlements in November and December with opioid manufacturers Teva and Allergan as well as with pharmaceutical chains Walmart, Walgreens and CVS totaling $19.2 billion.

Wisconsin is in line to receive about $324.3 million, with 30% going to the state and 70% going to county governments. The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is set to vote on whether to accept the money during a meeting today.

Accepting the settlements will also subject the companies to a Wisconsin circuit court order requiring them to make major changes in how prescription opioids are sold and dispensed.

Teva and Allergan have agreed to limit opioid marketing, promotion, sale and distribution. The pharmacy chains will implement requirements addressing compliance structures and pharmacist judgment, according to documents prepared by the state Justice Department.

More than 3,000 lawsuits have been filed by state and local governments, Native American tribes, unions, hospitals and other entities in state and federal courts over the toll of opioids. Most allege the industry created a public nuisance in a crisis that has been linked to the deaths of 500,000 Americans over the past two decades.

Wisconsin entered similar settlements with four companies involved in the opioid industry — Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — in 2022.