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Nevada opts out of $26B multi-state opioid settlement

Updated August 25, 2021 - 9:29 am

CARSON CITY — Nevada will go it alone in pursuing settlements with drugmakers and distributors related to the opioid crisis, with a new agreement among the state and 28 local governments for how such funds will be allocated.

“Nevada continues to be one of the hardest-hit states by the opioid crisis, and the compensation for Nevadans must be commensurate to the harm these companies caused,” Attorney General Aaron Ford said Tuesday in announcing the move.

Nevada is among at least a half-dozen states that chose to opt out from some or all of a $26 billion settlement with drugmakers and distributors. That deal was reached in July.

“While I commend our sister states on two hard-fought multi-state settlements, I will continue working toward a resolution with any defendant that more adequately addresses the devastation felt by every Nevadan who has experienced the tragedy of the opioid crisis,” Ford continued.

In announcing the new state compact, Ford’s office noted Nevada’s 40 percent increase in opioid-related overdose deaths in 2020 — 484 in all, which was the highest one-year figure on record.

With the record deaths came increased costs for healthcare, child welfare, criminal justice and other programs to address “the harms, impact and risks caused by the opioid epidemic to Nevada and to its residents,” Ford’s office stated.

The agreement allocates future settlements among the state and localities according to a set formula determined based on claims data. After attorneys fees, the state’s share would be 44 percent, the 28 local governments would split 39 percent, and counties would divide the remaining 17 percent according to the state’s share of Medicaid claims payments in each jurisdiction. Clark County would receive roughly two thirds of recovered funds under both of the latter two categories.

According to the Attorney General’s office, the agreement allows the state “to continue discussions with all or any of the defendants who want to do the right thing and settle with Nevada and all of its counties and litigating cities and to begin the much-needed process of redressing the impact of the opioid epidemic across the entire state.”

The attorney general’s announcement included statements of support from participating local governments — among them, representatives of Clark, Douglas, Humboldt, Mineral and Washoe counties, and the cities of North Las Vegas, Sparks and West Wendover.

“The multi-state settlement formula would not account for the severe impacts the opioid crisis had on our state due to our relatively small population,” Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson said. “We stand behind the decision not to participate in the proposed multi-state opioid settlements and believe this will empower us to negotiate more favorably.”

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.