Waco to get $624K in opioid settlement
Texas’ legal action against companies making and distributing opioids continues to benefit city and county governments, the city of Waco scheduled to receive $624,000 following McLennan County’s $140,000 windfall.
Local governments statewide are voting thumbs up or down on joining the state’s financial settlement with several drug companies. McLennan County first filed a suit against opioid makers in 2017, later joining claimants statewide and nationally in pursuing opioid-related financial remedies.
The city of Waco finds itself in line to receive cash, though it is a non-litigant that has taken no legal action. The Waco City Council this week voted to sanction a state settlement, making it eligible for a direct payment estimated at $624,000, Waco City Attorney Jennifer Richie said. She said Waco also may apply for funds from a regional opioid abatement fund.
The council has not determined how to spend the money, though it is required to be used for opioid-related causes, Ritchie said.
In July, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Texas had joined a $26 billion, multistate opioid settlement with what he called “the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors,” McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, as well as drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The state of Texas and participating local governments could see up to $1.5 billion, which would include $292 million from Johnson & Johnson alone.
McLennan County remains a party to the suit, so county commissioners in mid-November approved taking part in the settlement. Local governments around Texas have until early January to take part. Waco attorney Herb Bristow, who represents the county on this issue, said the county receives a $140,000 direct payment, and becomes eligible to apply for $2.5 million from a regional state council guided by doctors and mental health professionals.
The actual amount the state receives will depend on how many local governments join the settlement. Attorneys for some have suggested their clients delay action, possibly pursuing larger settlements on their own.
Bristow said he could not comment on why Waco, a non-litigant, could receive a larger upfront payment than the county, an active participant.
“First of all, I don’t represent the city in this deal. I can’t speak for the city. They are a non-litigating beneficiary,” Bristow said. “On behalf of the county, we’re negotiating different settlements with different parties. You can’t compare litigants and non-litigating parties. Apples and oranges.”
Bristow said he’s elated by statewide settlements to date.
Legal action by the county remains pending against two companies filing for bankruptcy protection, Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.
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