York County to settle with opioid manufacturer

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

York County is one of several Pennsylvania counties that have signed on to a settlement agreement with opioid companies that will bring over $1 billion to Pennsylvania.

The York County Commissioners voted to accept an agreement with Janssen Pharmacueticals regarding its lawsuit. The exact amount the county receives will be determined once the settlement is finalized.

"I think it's a great thing for our community that we're going to get funds in here to help with abatement procedures surrounding the opioid epidemic," President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said Wednesday. 

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York County saw a record number of overdose deaths in 2020: 187 deaths related to drugs.

The county's settlement was highlighted in a news release by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro that noted that 50 counties have signed on to the settlement.

“Pennsylvania lost 5,172 lives to overdoses in the last year alone, which is 14 Pennsylvanians a day," Shapiro said in the release. "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 suffering with substance abuse." 

The county first sued 25 drug manufacturers and distributors in 2017 for misleading and downplaying the risks of using opioids such as oxycontin, fentanyl and Percocet. That includes Janssen Pharmacuetica Inc., which is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

READ MORE: York County sues 25 opioid manufacturers, distributors

Wheeler said county officials aren't sure how much funding York County will get from the settlement as of yet.

The terms of the settlement agreement require a critical mass of state and local governments to join the settlement, which would guarantee maximum payment from the countries' three major pharmaceutical distributors — Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen — as well as Johnson & Johnson.

Shapiro encouraged the 17 counties and subdivisions to join the agreement, which they have until next month to do.

"We know no dollar amount will bring back all that we have lost, but this settlement will give communities the money to save lives now,” Shapiro said.

In other business, the county also approved a contract with Somerset-based company Crilon Corp. for a debris removal program.

Senior project manager Steven Malesker, who manages bridge programs for York County, said the debris removal is needed because of damage done by Tropical Storm Ida.

Five bridges need debris removed: Bridge 65 on Strickler School Road, Bridge 67 on Hill View Road and Bridge 69 on Valley Acres Road in Hellam Township; Bridge 158 on Beaver Creek Road in Paradise Township; and Bridge 253 on Wharf Road in Monaghan Township.

Matt Enright can be reached via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.