Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Milwaukee Wins $45 Million More From Opioid Companies

Settlement hikes total award to $101 million, largest municipal payout in state history.

By - Apr 17th, 2023 03:36 pm

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Attorneys for Milwaukee County have nearly doubled the amount of money the county will see from a settlement with opioid manufacturers and distributors.

In 2021, the county and a handful of other counties and municipalities from around the country reached a settlement with pharmaceutical producers involved in the opioid business. The county received $56 million through the settlement after outside counsel assisting with the case was paid.

The successful claim against the companies argued they misled the public on the long-term effects of opioid use and ignored suspicious orders of the highly-addictive drugs feeding the opioid epidemic.

The lawsuit has resulted in another settlement reached after negotiating for two years with a second slate of defendants. This time the companies represent the distribution end of the opioid epidemic: Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Allergan Finance, LLC, Walgreen Co., Walmart, Inc., CVS Health Corporation and CVS Pharmacy, Inc. The county’s share of the settlement with these companies, still tentative, is approximately $45.3 million.

The two settlements add up to $101 million awarded to the county from the lawsuit.

“This represents the single largest recovery by any municipality in the history of Wisconsin,” Corporation Counsel Margaret Daun told the county board’s Committee on Finance Thursday. “It’s also the single largest recovery by any litigating municipality within the state. So we, Milwaukee County are receiving more money than basically any other city or county that is part of the opioid litigation.”

A resolution approving the settlement made its way through the board’s committee process in April so that the deal can be executed by an April 20 deadline.

This suit was just one of three “multi-jurisdictional litigations” that the county is a part of, according to Daun. The county has also joined a lawsuit against the infamous Sackler Family and their company Purdue Pharma, makers of the drug Oxycontin. And another is aimed at the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which served as an advisor to Purdue.

While settlement negotiations have taken years to complete in one case, Daun told the board’s Committee on Judiciary, Law Enforcement and General Services during a meeting Monday that the federal courts hearing these suits have shown “a sense of urgency that I have not seen with other large-scale-plaintiffs litigation” because of an understanding that the funds will be spent trying to ameliorate the effects of the opioid epidemic; and that any delay could mean more death.

This latest settlement is being referred to as “settlement two” because the corporation counsel’s office expects more in the future.

The county has been able to directly receive these large settlements in part because of legislation passed by the state Legislature in 2020 that created a process for allocating settlement funds from these multi-jurisdictional opioid suits. The bill mandates that local governments receive 70% of the proceeds from these settlements.

By receiving the funds directly, the county is able to plug the funds into addiction programs already in place and create new ones. The county already operates a behavioral health system that includes mental health and addiction treatment and programs.

Daun noted that if the funds had to go through the state’s Joint Finance Committee before they went to the county it would create “another layer of process” and one which can be “politicized” as any legislative body can be.

Categories: Health, MKE County, Weekly

One thought on “MKE County: Milwaukee Wins $45 Million More From Opioid Companies”

  1. ZeeManMke says:

    Well done, Corporation Counsel Margaret Daun. Most Corporation Counsels in the County’s recent history are masters at money flowing out or enraging people like in the Pension Scandal. This lawyer is bringing the money in. Give her more staff and see what else she can bring in

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