Attorney General James to Deliver Up to $75 Million to Western New York to Combat Opioid Crisis

AG James Continues Statewide ‘HealNY’ Tour to Deliver Money to Cities
and Counties Ravaged by Opioid Epidemic, Stops in Buffalo Today

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today continued her statewide ‘HealNY’ tour of New York state with a stop in Buffalo, where she announced that she will deliver up to $75 million to Western New York to combat the opioid epidemic. The funds come from different settlements Attorney General James has negotiated following her March 2019 lawsuit against the various manufacturers and distributors responsible for the opioid crisis. Attorney General James’ tour has already made more than a dozen stops in New York counties throughout the month of October, where she has been announcing up to $1.5 billion in funds going to counties across New York state. Attorney General James also received the “Peoples’ Champion Award” from the organization Save the Michaels of the World in Buffalo for her work and advocacy combatting the opioid crisis.

“Over the last two decades, the opioid crisis has devastated Western New York, causing heartbreaking addictions, overdoses, and deaths, but, today, we begin to heal New York by infusing up to $75 million into the community to invest in the programs that will help us recover,” said Attorney General James. “While no amount of money will ever compensate for all the loss we have experienced, these funds will allow Western New York to invest in the prevention, treatment, and recovery programs that will allow us to finally turn the tide on the opioid crisis and have a fighting chance at saving all the Michaels of the world.”

buffalo 10.15.2021 healny pic

Attorney General James announces that she will deliver millions of dollars to Erie County
and other counties in Western New York to help local residents recover from the opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit Attorney General James filed in 2019 was, at the time, the nation’s most extensive lawsuit against the various manufacturers and distributors of opioids. These manufacturers and distributors were responsible for heavily marketing opioids to doctors, hospitals, health care systems, and others, which led to the over prescription of the drugs across New York and the rest of the nation over the last two decades. The manufacturers named in Attorney General James’ complaint included Purdue Pharma and its affiliates, as well as members of the Sackler Family (owners of Purdue) and trusts they control; Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its affiliates (including its parent company Johnson & Johnson); Mallinckrodt LLC and its affiliates; Endo Health Solutions and its affiliates; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. and its affiliates; and Allergan Finance, LLC and its affiliates. The distributors named in the complaint were McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation, and Rochester Drug Cooperative Inc.

Last month, a settlement with Endo was announced that has already delivered $50 million to New York state and Nassau and Suffolk counties to combat the opioid crisis and remove the opioid manufacturer from New York’s ongoing opioid trial.

Also, last month, a settlement that secured more than $4.5 billion — at least $200 million of which will be earmarked for New York — from the Sackler family and foundations that they control, ends the Sacklers’ ability to manufacture opioids ever again, and will shut down Purdue Pharma was announced.

In July, a settlement with McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen that will deliver up to $1 billion to New York state to combat the opioid epidemic was announced.

In June, a settlement that ended Johnson & Johnson’s sale of opioids nationwide and that will deliver $230 million to New York alone was announced. The deals with Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen have a global value of approximately $26 billion.

The cases against Mallinckrodt and Rochester Drug Cooperative are now moving separately through U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The trial against the two remaining defendants — Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and Allergan Finance — is currently underway and continues in state court.

Pursuant to the new law establishing the opioid settlement fund, all funds collected by the state from opioid settlements or litigation victories will be allocated specifically for abatement efforts in communities devastated by the opioid epidemic and will not go towards the state’s general fund.

Every region in the state will receive millions of dollars for prevention, treatment, and recovery programs to combat the opioid crisis.

The figures listed below represent the minimum and maximum amounts each county can receive from the settlements with Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, Amerisource Bergen, and Endo. The more localities across the state that agree to the terms of these different settlements, the more each locality is eligible to receive. The figures below do not include payments from Purdue Pharma or the Sackler family, as the regional split for those payments are still being finalized. Those funds, as well as any funds from future or ongoing litigation, would be in addition to what is listed below.

Western New York Total: $41,495,261.67 – $75,321,704.35*

  • Allegany County: $425,693.35 – $735,050.06
  • Cattaraugus County: $765,411.42 – $1,321,645.52
  • Chautauqua County: $1,479,959.48 – $2,555,464.62
  • Erie County: $16,602,566.69 – $29,067,862.99**
  • Niagara County: $2,952,477.35 – $5,098,079.73

* In addition to sum total of counties, a regional share is also being allocated here.
** Not all funds going to the county. Also includes funds going directly to a major city within the county.

“The opioid epidemic has deeply impacted families across the Western New York community for far too long,” said U.S. Representative Brian Higgins. “Thanks to Attorney General James’ persistence, the companies responsible for this crisis are finally being held accountable. Although it cannot repay the lives lost to addiction, this funding will go a long way in providing resources for prevention and reaching those in greatest need of a path toward recovery here in Western New York and across New York state.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the opioid crisis and triggered an increase in overdoses, with the CDC reporting that 2019 to 2020 marked the country’s deadliest year for substance abuse yet. Tragically, we know that national spike was mirrored here in Erie County and in Western New York,” said State Senator Tim Kennedy. “This money delivered today by Attorney General James will be transformative, and will directly assist the critical agencies and municipalities that are helping those struggling with addiction and guiding them through their recovery journey.”

“The opioid epidemic has caused immense tragedy here in Western New York, around our state, and across our nation. I commend the family members of those lost to opioid addiction who have turned their personal tragedy into a movement to save lives,” said State Senator Sean Ryan. “I thank Attorney General Letitia James for working to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for their undeniable role in this crisis. The funds her office has secured will provide critical resources as we continue to combat opioid addiction in our state. By expanding our prevention, treatment, and recovery programs, we commit ourselves to a safer and more hopeful future for the people of New York."

“The nearly $75 million Western New York is likely to receive for treatment and prevention to combat New York’s opioid crisis is an incredible milestone toward efforts to eradicate the opioid addiction epidemic,” said New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “This funding, reached through the diligent work of Attorney General Letitia James and her team, will deliver resources to treat, prevent, educate, and restore communities devastated by opioids across New York state. I applaud the leadership of Attorney General James on this important issue.”

“As one of the thousands of New Yorkers who have lost a loved one to the opioid epidemic, I want to thank Attorney General James for her efforts to hold drug manufacturers accountable for the devastation they have caused,” said State Assemblymember Monica Wallace. “These funds will go a long way toward preventing future tragedies.”

“The overuse and misuse of opioids was a crisis wrought by the pharmaceutical companies that we now know were willful perpetrators of fraud — fraud that made Big Pharma richer while it was destroying and cutting short the lives of unwitting patients, seniors, and young people,” said State Assemblymember Bill Conrad. “We continue to face the ruinous fallout of the pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors' deceptive practices, which is why addiction education, prevention, treatment, and recovery all remain critically important — perhaps more than ever as we also address the toll of COVID-19 on people's mental health. For those who have lost loved ones to opioid use, may the pharmaceutical industry's mandated accountability offer a sense of justice. And, in communities plagued by the opioid crisis, including Buffalo and Erie County, these funds will save and restore lives. I applaud and thank Attorney General James for waging such a valiant fight on our behalf, and organizations like Save the Michaels for their tireless and heartfelt advocacy.”

“Too many people in Western New York have lost their battles with addiction, and far too many families have had to endure the heartbreak of losing a loved one to opioids,” said State Assemblymember Karen McMahon. “Attorney General James has held the pharmaceutical companies responsible for fueling the opioid epidemic and, as a result, we can further fund programs to treat and prevent opioid addiction. On behalf of the people of the 146th Assembly District, I thank Attorney General James for her commitment to a safer and healthier New York.”

“From the cities to the suburbs and even the most rural areas, the opioid crisis has truly hit all parts of Erie County. While no amount of money will bring back the loved ones lost or heal the broken families left behind, the compensation secured by Attorney General James’ office will help those in Erie County who are still here and still struggling,” said Erie County Legislature Chair April Baskin. “Local members organizations, like those that are a part of our Erie County Opioid Task Force, will be able to continue their collaboration on frontline response. I’m also hopeful that additional funding will provide for the rebuilding of minority and lower income communities as they recover. I’m grateful for the zeal with which Attorney General James has pursued these historic settlements, and while much work may lie ahead, I’m confident that we will continue to curb the trend away from addiction in Buffalo and Western New York.”

“I am so grateful to New York Attorney General Letitia James for taking a bold stand to successfully sue manufacturers and distributors of opioids that have negatively affected thousands of New Yorkers,” said Buffalo Common Councilmember Rasheed Wyatt. “These funds may not help those we lost but may hopefully save many more Michaels in the future. This is the type of genuine leadership New Yorkers must have if we are to advocate for the most vulnerable.”

“This funding will be instrumental in fighting the opioid crisis,” said Delaware District Council Member Joel Feroleto. “I am happy the money from Attorney General James’ lawsuit will be spent on recovery, treatment, and prevention programs that will combat the opioid epidemic.”

“I thank Attorney General James for her leadership to bring these much-needed funds to our community to address the lasting effects of the opioid crisis in Western New York,” said Buffalo Common Councilmember Mitch Nowakowski. “Opioid addiction has a ripple effect in that it never just impacts one person, it affects their friends, families, neighbors, coworkers, and, in fact, all of us. It is my sincere belief that Buffalo and Erie County will be able to utilize these funds to make a difference in the lives of residents affected by the opioid crisis here on the ground level.”

Separately, but related to her work on opioids, this past February, Attorney General James co-led a coalition of nearly every attorney general in the nation in delivering more than $573 million — more than $32 million of which was earmarked for New York state — toward opioid treatment and abatement in an agreement and consent judgment with McKinsey & Company.

In the Office of the New York Attorney General, this matter was led by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy, Senior Advisor and Special Counsel M. Umair Khan, and former Counsel for Opioids and Impact Litigation David Nachman. The settlements were also brought about by the work led by Senior Enforcement Counsel John Oleske and Assistant Attorney General Monica Hanna, as well as Assistant Attorneys General Conor Duffy, Carol Hunt, Diane Johnston, Leo O’Toole, Jeremy Pfetsch, Noah Popp, Larry Reina, Michael Reisman, Lois Saldana, and Louis Testa; Project Attorneys Wil Handley, Stephanie Torre, and Eve Woodin; Paralegal Ketty Dautruche; Legal Assistant David Payne; Director of Research and Analytics Jonathan Werberg; Data Scientist Gautam Sisodia; Data Analyst Anushua Choudhury; Information Technology Specialists Hewson Chen and Paige Podolny; and E-Discovery Document Review Specialist Kristin Petrella.