Clinton County signs on to proposed settlement of ‘One Ohio’ opioid litigation


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



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McCoy


News Journal file photo

WILMINGTON — As one of multiple local government plaintiffs in the “One Ohio” opioid litigation, Clinton County has decided to sign onto a proposed settlement with the three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies.

The amount of proceeds the county would directly receive depends on how many of the other plaintiffs also accept the proposed settlement as well as on other benchmarks, said Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney Andrew T. McCoy.

That said, if the One Ohio settlement is approved, then the current general estimates are that Clinton County will receive between $560,000 and $800,000, McCoy said.

The Board of Clinton County Commissioners would decide how these funds are spent. From these funds, 15 percent may be used to reimburse past expenditures made in responding to a wave of addiction.

The remaining 85 percent must be used to help abate the menace caused by the opioid epidemic. The settlement provides specifics on appropriate uses of the funds, the county prosecutor said.

Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed, while voting to accept the jointly negotiated settlement, said it’s unfortunate the funds are going to come over a period of 18 years.

“The impact to Clinton County may not be as great as if it were to come in a more condensed time period,” said Steed. “In Clinton County, we feel the impact [of the opioid addiction crisis] on a daily basis,” he added.

There is a second pool of dollars that a regional board would allocate for projects that serve the entire region. These expenditures should ensure both the efficient and effective abatement of the opioid epidemic, as well as the prevention of future addiction and substance misuse, states the One Ohio memorandum of understanding.

Clinton County’s region has seven counties: Clinton, Warren, Butler, Clermont, Greene, Clark and Madison counties.

Depending on the various benchmarks set up for approval of the settlement, there is an estimated range of funds that would come to Region 14, of which Clinton County is a part.

If the settlement is approved, the local government plaintiffs in Region 14 will receive an estimated minimum of $38 million and an estimated maximum of $54 million, said McCoy.

Each region will determine an appropriate structure for the board that will decide how to spend these funds, McCoy added.

The proposed One Ohio settlement is with McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., and AmerisourceBergen Corporation. It’s important to note the settlement funding estimates given above do not include any distribution from any other defendant for which settlement discussions are ongoing, said McCoy, who was not involved in the One Ohio negotiations.

For Clinton County to go it alone on a lawsuit against much of the prescription opioid industry would require a very large investment by the county, with an uncertain outcome, McCoy said during the commissioners meeting where they decided to stick with One Ohio’s joint litigation and thus the proposed settlement.

On Thursday night, Wilmington City Council likewise voted to participate in the proposed settlement with the same three drug distribution companies. Wilmington Director of Law Brett Rudduck did not know what the city may receive if the One Ohio settlement is approved, but he thinks Hillsboro, which is smaller than Wilmington, is expecting about $150,000.

Drug overdoses were the third leading cause of death in Clinton County during 2020, when there were 23 substance-use deaths locally, according to the Clinton County Health District annual report.

Of the total 23 drug overdose deaths, fentanyl and its analogs were involved in 70 percent — 16 deaths. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid.

In addition to local substance-use deaths, there are the lives derailed by addiction.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

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By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com