Attorney General Skrmetti’s Office Leads Negotiations That Reached $3.1 Billion Settlement with Walmart

On Tuesday, Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti announced that he, along with 15 other state attorneys general, led negotiations on a $3.1 billion settlement with Walmart.

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Tennessee Attorney General Announces $84 Million Payout Distributed Across the State to Combat Opioid Crisis

More than $84 million was paid to the state and local governments to be used to abate the opioid crisis in Tennessee, Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti announced on Friday.

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Opioid Epidemic in 2020 Cost Virginia Nearly $3.5 Billion

The opioid epidemic in Virginia cost almost $3.5 billion in 2020, according to a new cost calculator from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Commonwealth University. On average, over four Virginians died of an opioid overdose each day in 2020, according to a VDH announcement of the cost calculator.

“This burden is carried by Virginia’s workers, employers, and governments, and includes both future losses and current direct spending that could have been avoided,” the calculator’s site explains. “Virginia families and businesses take on a large amount of these costs, mostly due to lost future worker productivity. Federal, state, and local governments also see increased healthcare and government costs and lost future tax revenues. The cost burden of the opioid epidemic is split among several sectors.”

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New Report Shows the Economic Cost of the Opioid Crisis on Arizona

A new report from the Common Sense Institute of Arizona (CSI) shared how the growing opioid crisis has economically burdened Arizona.

“Federal border officials have been forced to reallocate scarce resources to the interdiction and processing of migrants since 2020. Failure to complete physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, combined with a lack of enforcement attention, has enabled sufficient flow of fentanyl into the United States to fill a demand shift created in part by the crackdown on mail-order and prescription drugs,” according to the CSI. “Last year, fatal overdoses in Arizona reached the highest level ever reported by DHS, and data suggests the national numbers will be worse this year.”

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Patients’ Average COVID-19 Average Hospital Stay Up During Omicron in Virginia

The average length of stay for COVID-19 patients went up in the first quarter of 2022 according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA).

“What we saw in the Omicron wave was that those coming into hospitals were staying longer for their COVID hospitalization with an average length of stay of ten-and-a-half days,” VHHA Vice President of Data Analytics, David Vaamonde said during a Monday presentation of hospital and emergency department visit trends.

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Drug Manufacturer Agrees to Multi-Billion Dollar Settlement with Victims of Opioid Epidemic

Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of the world’s largest generic drug manufacturer, has reached an agreement in principle to settle all outstanding lawsuits over their alleged involvement in the national opioid crisis for $4.35 billion, according to a Teva press release.

This payout includes a commitment to supply $1.2 billion worth of Narcan, a drug that reverses opioid overdose, over the next ten years, the release states. The $4.25 billion will be distributed over the next 13 years, with $100 million being earmarked for Native American Tribes.

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Tennessee, Other States Set to Receive Funds Through $4 Billion Settlement with Opioid Maker

Tennessee and several other states will receive extensive funds due to a settlement with Teva, an opioid manufacturer based in Israel.

According to a release from Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III, the drug maker will pay $4.25 billion to state and local governments.

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Mark Brnovich Announces Two Multistate Settlements with Four Pharmaceutical Companies for Their Roles in the Opioid Crisis

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) recently announced two historic multistate settlements, totaling $26 billion, with four pharmaceutical companies over their roles in the opioid crisis.

“We are working to get these opioid abatement funds to local communities as quickly as possible,” Brnovich said in a press release. “They will help facilitate more effective treatment, education, and prevention as our state continues to tackle this heartbreaking crisis.”

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Ohio Attorney General’s Office Warns of New Deadly Synthetic Drug

Ohio’s top attorney this week is warning residents of a new class of designer drugs that are more deadly than fentanyl. 

“Frankenstein opioids are even more lethal than the drugs already responsible for so many overdose deaths,” Attorney General Dave Yost said in a press release. “Law enforcement and the public need to pay attention to these emerging hazards.” 

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Commentary: Border Security Is Key to Ending Arizona’s Opioid Crisis

Since President Biden has taken office, Arizona has been at the frontline of a savage battle currently underway on America’s southern border. This battle is being waged against a constant wave of undocumented illegal immigrants and deadly drugs that are entering our country with very little oversight or repercussions.

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Columbus Giving Naloxone to Residents to Prevent Opioid Overdoses

Narcan nasal spray

In conjunction with Franklin County, the city of Columbus is inviting opioid-addicted residents to order free naloxone, also known as Narcan, to help them reverse overdoses.

“Narcan distribution is part of our comprehensive programming to address the addiction crisis – and it is highly effective,” Columbus’ Director of Communications Kelli Newman told The Ohio Star. “Last year, through the Columbus & Franklin County Addiction Plan, we provided 24,144 Narcan kits (48,244 doses) and conducted 624 community trainings. As a result of Narcan being dispensed by bystanders, friends and family members, there were 3,699 overdose reversals in our community last year. Simply put, Narcan saves lives.”

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Historic Opioid Settlement Receives Final Approval, Tennessee Attorney General Announces

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery on Friday announced a final agreement between large opioid distributors, Johnson & Johnson, and attorneys general throughout the country.

According to the final details, Tennessee will receive approximately $600 million over 18 years to help combat the opioid crisis. The three distributors, Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, along with Johnson & Johnson, will begin to make payments on April 2, 2022.

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Tennessee Attorney General Marks Milestone Progress on $26 Billion Opioid Agreement

On Thursday, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III marked a key milestone in the $26 billion opioid agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – and Johnson & Johnson over the companies’ role in creating and fueling the nationwide opioid crisis.

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Youngkin Finishes Cabinet Nominations with Sec. Public Safety and Homeland Security, and Sec. Health and Human Resources

Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin completed his cabinet nominee picks on Monday with the announcement of Fauquier County Sheriff Robert Mosier to be Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, and recent Magellan of Virginia President John Littel to be Secretary of Health and Human Resources.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on Virginians across the Commonwealth, and John will play a pivotal role in overseeing our efforts in protecting Virginians’ lives and livelihoods. Starting on Day One, John’s experience will be an asset as we fix our broken mental and behavioral health system, ensure Virginians have access to affordable, free-market healthcare options, and reform our healthcare safety net to save taxpayer dollars and improve healthcare outcomes,” Youngkin said in the announcement.

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Nearly 75 Percent of Pennsylvania Counties Have Signed Onto Opioid Settlement

pill bottles spilled onto a table

Fifty Pennsylvania counties have joined a historic global opioid settlement that is expected to bring $1 billion to the state to fight the opioid crisis.

The $26 billion settlement involves the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – as well as Johnson & Johnson. The agreement requires industry changes to help prevent a similar crisis in the future, in addition to the funds, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.

“Pennsylvania lost 5,172 lives to overdoses in the last year alone, which is 14 Pennsylvanians a day. This settlement is going to provide resources to jumpstart programs that will change lives and impact families across our commonwealth who are struggling to find treatment and help for those struggling with substance abuse,” Shapiro said. “These funds will be earmarked to offer and expand life-saving treatment options, prioritizing the areas that have been most affected by this crisis.”

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Addiction-Based Mental Health Crisis Still Getting Worse in Virginia

During the beginning of COVID-19, hospital inpatient volume and emergency department visits decreased, in part due to people postponing treatment. But the same data showed an increase in the number of patients getting treatment for alcohol, drug use, and related mental disorders, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) reported in April. In a Friday press conference, VHHA Vice President of Data and Analytics David Vaamonde reported that increased treatment for those kinds of disorders continued into the first two quarters of 2021 — one of only two Major Diagnostic Categories (MDCs) that saw growth since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’re looking at MDCs where volumes actually increased since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have alcohol and drug use, and drug induced organic mental health disorders, obviously a very concerning trend there, and then diseases and disorders of the respiratory system and infectious and parasitic diseases,” Vaamonde said, adding that the respiratory, infectious, and parasitic categories line up with what a COVID-19 patient would have.

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Two Individuals Sentenced for Embezzling Thousands from Native American Addiction and Counseling Center

Ain Dah Ing

A federal judge in Wisconsin on Friday sentenced two individuals for embezzling thousands from Ain Dah Ing (ADI), a nonprofit that offered mental health and alcohol and substance abuse services to Native American tribes in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

U.S. District Judge William M. Conley sentenced Edith Schmuck and Fredericka DeCoteau to one and two years in prison, respectively.

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Ohio AG Yost Announces $800 Million Settlement with Opioid Distributors

Dave Yost

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced on Friday that the state reached an $808 million agreement with the three largest distributors of opioids.

The mutual agreement is meant to provide monetary relief for communities throughout the state that were hit hard by the addiction crisis.

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Former Head of OxyContin Giant Purdue Pharma Denies Fault or Blame in Opioid Crisis

The former president and board chair of Purdue Pharma testified in court on Wednesday that he, his family and the company are not at fault for the opioid crisis, CBS News reported.

Richard Sackler, 76, who is a member of the family that owns the OxyContin maker, denied responsibility at a White Plains, New York, bankruptcy hearing, CBS News reported.

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Biden Nominates Candidates for U.S. Attorney for Western and Eastern Districts of Virginia

President Joe Biden has announced his nominees for United States Attorney for the Western and Eastern Districts of Virginia. Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) Jessica Aber and Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia (WDVA) Christopher Kavanaugh were on a list of two candidates for each seat recommended by Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.

“We are pleased that the President has nominated Ms. Aber and Mr. Kavanaugh to fill these vacancies,” the senators said in a joint press release. “After a thorough review of their distinguished records, we believe they will serve Virginia and the country with distinction. We hope our colleagues will join us to support these well-qualified nominees to be U.S. Attorneys in the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia.

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15 States Reach Agreement, Pave Way for $4.5 Billion Settlement over Opioid Crisis

Spilled pill bottle with lid beside bottle

A coalition of 15 states agreed to a deal with drug maker Purdue Pharma, which could soon lead to a $4.5 billion settlement over the company’s role in the U.S. opioid epidemic.

The states agreed to no longer oppose Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy plan while the pharmaceutical company agreed to publicly release a trove of millions of documents, according to a court filing late Wednesday night. The Sackler family, which owns the company, would pay an additional $50 million under the settlement.

The agreement will be tacked onto a broader proposal that is set to be voted on by more than 3,000 plaintiffs, The New York Times reported. In addition to the states, plaintiffs include cities, counties and tribes that sued the company over its role in boosting its painkiller OxyContin, the cause of thousands of opioid deaths.

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More Lethal Fentanyl Found Along the Southern Border this Year Than Last

Federal authorities have seized significantly more fentanyl along the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona and California since October than they did in the entire 2020 fiscal year.

Since October, authorities have seized 7.000 pounds of the drug, compared to just 4,500 pounds in the entire last fiscal year, according to data from Customs and Boarder Protection. The reasoning, according to authorities, is simply supply and demand.

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Virginia’s Democratic Gubernatorial, Attorney General Candidates Debate

Virginia’s GOP nomination process for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general is grabbing headlines but early voting in the Democratic primary is still ongoing, and the final day of voting is in June. On Wednesday and Thursday, Democrats held debates between their candidates for attorney general and governor.

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Fairfax ‘Pill Mill’ Doctor Gets Seven Years

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema sentenced Fairfax doctor Felicia Donald to seven years in prison for operating a “pill mill” at For Women OB/GYN Associates and NOVA Addiction Center. According to a Department of Justice press release, from April 2016 to April 2020 Donald distributed over $1.2 million worth of oxycodone and other controlled substances. Donald pled guilty on May 4, 2020.

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Nashville’s Fatal Drug Overdoses So Far Surpass 2019 Total

Nashville officials have recorded more fatal drug overdoses in the first nine months of 2020 than they did in all of 2019.

This, according to a press release that members of the Metro Public Health Department emailed late last week.

As The Tennessee Star reported in May, Nashville, at the time, had an increase in the number of overdoses since March. Mid-March was right around the same time that local, state, and federal officials in the United States first restricted people’s movements and other freedoms because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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House Lawmaker Calls on Ohio State Senate to Pass Bipartisan Opioid Measure

Ohio State Representative Richard D. Brown (D-Canal Winchester) called on the State Senate Thursday to pass House Bill 10 (HB 10). The legislation was passed unanimously in June, 2019 with the help of the bill’s co-sponsor Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Paris Twp.).

“The all-encompassing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies exactly why we need a dedicated office to focus on drug addiction in our state. We cannot afford to take our eye off the ball even in the face of another crisis,” said Rep. Brown in a statement.

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’60 Minutes’ Discovers Opioid Silk-Road From China to Akron

  The CBS weekly show 60 Minutes recently discovered a drug route leading into Ohio. The CBS team found that fentanyl plants in Shanghai have been trafficking their product through Akron. Guanghua Zheng, a free citizen of Shanghai, is a wanted man in America. Zheng illegally imported fentanyl and other…

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Ohio Man Gets Five Years for Intent to Distribute Enough Carfentanil to Kill 700 People

Alandre J. Gillbreath of Springfield, Ohio was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for possession with intent to distribute enough carfentanil to kill 700 people. According to the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Ohio, Gillbreath was arrested in May 2017 when police officers responded to…

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Kasich Warns Of Widespread Fentanyl, Warns Users They Are ‘Playing With The Devil’

John Kasich

by Steve Birr   Authorities in Ohio are cracking down on drug dealers trafficking in the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl with harsher legal penalties as synthetic overdose deaths continue rising. Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Wednesday that reclassifies fentanyl from a Schedule II to a Schedule I substance and…

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Three People Are Dying Each Day From Opioids In Tennessee

Bill Haslam

by Steve Birr   A new report reveals the deteriorating national opioid epidemic is hitting Tennessee particularly hard, killing three people across the state each day. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam created the Tennessee Commission on Pain and Addiction Medicine Education Jan. 24 to investigate the addiction crisis and develop new standards for…

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Illegal Aliens Charged In Heroin Scheme That Led To Overdose Deaths In Tennessee

ICE arrest

by Will Racke   Two illegal aliens have been indicted on multiple counts of conspiracy and drug distribution for allegedly running a drug trafficking operation that led to the overdose deaths of at least two people in Tennessee, federal prosecutors announced Thursday. Juan Manuel Morales-Rodriguez, 39, and Juan Samudio-Castro —…

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Autopsy Finds Ohio Police Chief Died of a Fentanyl Overdose

by Steve Birr   The recent death of an Ohio police chief was the result of a fentanyl overdose, an autopsy report released Friday by a local coroner determined. Authorities in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, found Kirkersville Police Chief James Hughes Jr. dead in the bathroom of his home on May 25, along with a plastic…

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Gov. Haslam Signs Legislation to Restrict Opioid Access, Punish Trafficking, Provide Treatment Help

Bill Haslam

The state of Tennessee is adding restrictions to opioid prescriptions and measures to track and punish unlawful distribution of the powerful pain medications. Gov. Bill Haslam signed two bills and issued an executive order last Friday to support TN Together, the latest effort to fight the opioid crisis, WBIR reported,…

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Attorney General Sessions Announces Charges For 601 People In Largest Health Care Fraud Bust In History

by Steve Birr   Federal officials are charging 601 people, including more than 100 medical workers, for fueling opioid addiction in the largest bust of health care fraud in U.S. history. The Department of Justice revealed the charges Thursday, which were brought as part of an annual effort to dismantle…

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Rep. DesJarlais Focuses in on Support for Law Enforcement and Addiction Treatment

Scott DesJarlais

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN-04) released a statement this week geared to focusing attention on his work in support of both law enforcement and addiction treatment. “During a week in which the House of Representatives focused solely on solutions to the country’s opioid crisis, Congressman Scott DesJarlais, M.D., voted to improve…

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Tennessee Atty Gen Hebert Slatery Withdraws from District Attorneys’ Case Against Opioid Manufacturers

Tennessee Star

A conflict brewing between state and local prosecutors over a slew of lawsuits filed against drug manufacturers ended Thursday as Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery abruptly terminated any role his office might play in the legal actions by those jurisdictions seeking to recover costs associated to the opioid crisis. The…

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Metro Nashville Council Passes Resolution Authorizing Mayor Barry to Hire Law Firm to ‘Investigate’ Opioid Lawsuit

As two Tennessee counties prepare lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids, a third Tennessee local government appears poised to join the fray: Metropolitan Nashville Government. Tuesday’s Metro Nashville council meeting included a motion to reconsider a days-old resolution authorizing the Mayor to “employ the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann…

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Smith County, Tennessee Launches Lawsuit Against Prescription Opioid Manufacturers

Smith County filed a lawsuit Tuesday against prescription opioid manufacturers and distributors. The lawsuit is an effort to recover taxpayer money spent to fight the opioid epidemic and defray costs to the Smith County community. Mark P. Chalos, of the national plaintiffs’ law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, made the…

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Eric Bolling: Son’s Death Ruled ‘Accidental Overdose that Included Opioids’

The tragic death of Eric Bolling’s 19-year-old son was ruled an “accidental overdose that included opioids,” the former Fox News host said Thursday just hours after President Trump declared the national opioid crisis a public health emergency. The Boulder County coroner’s office in Colorado said Mr. Bolling’s son, Eric Chase…

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