Plans for distributing the $760 million Illinois will receive in the opioid settlement with Johnson and Johnson and three major pharmaceutical distributors were announced Friday.
The state said the settlement money will be distributed equitably to fund treatment and prevention programs.
"As this emergency has stolen the lives of thousands of residents, the state of Illinois has been a national leader in fighting back, with our state receiving as much as $760 million over the next 18 years," said Governor JB Pritzker. "I'm taking executive action to ensure these new resources truly address the best interventions, prevention, and remediation for the communities hurt by these harms. Everyone's life is worth saving, and this administration will leave no stone unturned as we work to bring the opioid epidemic to an end."
To help do that, an Office of Opioid Settlement Administration has been established.
The companies were sued for their role in creating and fueling the nationwide opioid epidemic.
"The multibillion dollar national opioid settlement is the result of countless hours I and senior attorneys in my office have worked to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for their roles in the ongoing opioid crisis," Attorney General Raul said.
The historic $26 billion-settlement marks the culmination of three years of negotiations to resolve more than 4,000 claims of state and local governments across the country, according to the governor's office. It is the second largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, second only to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
"30,000 Illinoisans use heroin every year, 74,000 have an OUD, and nearly 400,000 misuse prescription opiates," said State Representative La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago). "Illinois saw over 2200 opioid-related deaths in the first three quarters of 2020, a 36 percent increase from 2019. This $26 billion opioid settlement agreement will help offset the $41 billion total economic and social cost of OUD and fatal opioid overdoses in Illinois."
Illinois is one of 52 states and territories that have joined the settlement, along with thousands of local governments across the country. In Illinois, 94 out of 102 counties have signed onto the settlement. In addition, 104 out of 113 Illinois municipalities that are eligible to receive a direct distribution from the settlements have joined, the governor's office said.
In total, more than 290 Illinois government subdivisions have joined the settlements.
The initial funds could be distributed as early as October.
IDHS urges any Illinois resident who believes they or a loved one may be addicted to opioids to seek help by calling the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances at 833-2FINDHELP, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.