Tennessee Attorney General pushes for $48 billion opioid lawsuit settlement

Posted at 7:32 PM, Oct 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-21 23:46:15-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After a last-minute deal to avoid the nation's first-ever federal trial over the opioid crisis, there's been a new push from Tennessee's top cop to agree to a much bigger deal to get money to fight opioid addiction as quickly as possible.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slattery is one of four State Attorneys General who are pushing other states and cities to agree to a global settlement with opioid manufacturers and distributors: $48 billion that they argue could be used to help communities fight the opioid crisis now -- much of it for drugs to treat those diagnosed with opioid use disorder.

"Our goal is for the funds and treatment drugs to be made available as soon as possible, therefore we're going to burn the midnight oil trying to create this settlement document and put it into practice," said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, speaking to reporters on a conference call Monday afternoon.

Slattery told reporters that the drug companies accused of furthering the crisis would be required to hire compliance officers that would watch for suspiciously large opioid purchases.

"If purchases exceed that threshold, that's a red flag, they need to look into that," Slattery said.

The argument from the Attorneys General is that the settlement would avoid a trial that could delay getting money to the communities most affected by the opioid crisis. But the deal is meeting resistance in cities and states across the country, including within Tennessee, where some say the settlement wouldn't be enough to meaningfully help.

"When broken down to the city/county level on an annual basis, this amount does nothing to alleviate the very serious issues these companies have created in Tennessee," said District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway, out of Cookeville. "It is, at best, a budget for more body bags."