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Mecklenburg County will get $40 million in opioid settlement

Attorney General Josh Stein speaks in Charlotte on March 29, 2022.
Claire Donnelly
Attorney General Josh Stein speaks in Charlotte on March 29, 2022.

Mecklenburg County and the city of Charlotte will receive roughly $40 million as part of a nationwide multibillion-dollar settlement between state attorneys general, drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three drug distributors.

North Carolina will receive a total of $750 million over 18 years, most of which will be distributed to county and city governments across the state beginning in the second quarter of 2022. The money must be spent on opioid use prevention, treatment, recovery or harm reduction services.

“Who will ultimately get funded here in Mecklenburg County is going to be a decision made by the Mecklenburg County Commission (and) the Charlotte City Council,” said Attorney General Josh Stein during a visit to Charlotte Tuesday. “They’re going to want to hear from people in the community who have passion and ideas so they can make the best decisions.”

The money comes after the coronavirus pandemic fueled a spike in overdose deaths across the U.S. and the state. In 2020, North Carolina saw a 40% rise in overdose deaths from 2019 — roughly nine people per day, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. In Mecklenburg County, DHHS data show 223 people died from drug overdoses in 2020.

Stein in July 2021 announced the $26 billion agreement with Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen. Settlement funds in North Carolina will be distributed across all 100 counties as well as 17 municipalities based on a formula developed by an attorney representing the local governments.

Attorneys general from other states, including, among others, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, were also involved in negotiating the settlement.

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.