PA could be looking at a $1 billion opioid settlement

HARRISBURG – A whole bunch of states have brought lawsuits against the major opioid manufacturers for creating a nationwide deadly opioid addiction and epidemic.

It could pay out in a big way for PA, one of the states suing the major companies of Johnson and Johnson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health.

We could be looking at a $1 billion payoff in the settlement.

A recent case with Purdue Pharmaceutical gave PA almost $250 million.

It’s not clear how the monies will be handled, but it could trickle down into the counties, which could equate to tens of millions of dollars injected into the local government.

The actual payout likely won’t happen until late this year or early next.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the settlement recently during the Big Talk on First News.

Jansen quipped, “I’m sure we can count on the most efficient use of all this money.”

Ryan laughed, “I don’t think I like your sarcasm Jansen.”

Barkdoll pointed out, “Local listeners recall the tobacco settlement here locally was a total fiasco. Very similar circumstances and it was not well-managed. There were a lot of questions and issues with it. When you just suddenly come into tens of millions of dollars in a local government…they need to be very careful with it, they need to carefully manage it and historically it has been a problem.”

Ryan said, “The incompetence in this state is legendary. I’m seeing a headline moving: unemployment benefits fraud has been on the rise since a June launch of a new, a brand new, unemployment system. Will anybody ever be held accountable? You’re ripping off the likes of Michele and I, who pay our taxes, and then here’s the unemployment benefits and you guys can’t manage it. And now we’re going to get a billion dollars and you know that that money is going to be mismanaged. And nobody is going to fry for it.”

In the month of February alone there were 70,000 reports of identity theft directly related to fraudulent unemployment claims in Pennsylvania.

Barkdoll said, “What’s so maddening about this is that Pennsylvania’s unemployment system has been a mess now for years. We know all of these examples over the years where they’ve quote unquote upgraded the system and every time it seems to be a problem. Once again this new system seems to be very susceptible to fraud.”

Just yesterday Barkdoll talked to someone in Waynesboro who has a claim that’s been in the unemployment system since March. Nothing’s been done and it’s a legitimate claim.

Barkdoll said, “To me that’s just an example of how backlogged and how broken the system must be. No signs anywhere who’s going to be held accountable for this? Is the General Assembly going to bring in the secretary of labor? Are they going to do hearings to get to the bottom of this? They certainly should when they return from recess in late September but again historically it seems like very little is ever done to address this.”

Ryan said, “No, as a matter of fact, in Pennsylvania if you really screw things up, you’ll get headed to the Biden administration.”