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Cincinnati receives first opioid distributor settlement payment of $166,000

cardinal health
Darron Cummings
/
AP
The Cardinal Health, Inc. corporate office in Dublin, Ohio. The company was one of three distributors Ohio sued, along with McKesson and AmerisourceBergen.

Cincinnati has received $166,000 as the first payment from a state-negotiated settlement with major opioid distributors. The city is set to receive between $2 and $3 million over the next 18 years.

Cincinnati could have received much more if it opted out of the state settlement and pursued its own lawsuit instead, although that option would risk the city receiving nothing. City Solicitor Andrew Garth and then-mayor John Cranley strongly recommended pursuing the lawsuit, but Council voted 4-3 last year to accept the state settlement instead.

"I was one of a minority — we lost the vote that wanted to take them to court directly," Council Member Greg Landsman said Monday. "Because the settlement amount in my mind was outrageously low compared to the harm that they did to our families."

Solicitor Garth could have moved ahead with the lawsuit in spite of the council vote, but the administration followed the recommendation of council.

The city’s direct payments from the settlement will never be less than $166,000 a year, but the amount could go up as more companies sign on to the agreement.

The money can be used for evidence-based opioid and substance use disorder treatment and prevention.

“There’s also money that's flowing through the state through a foundation to different regions in the state of Ohio, of which Hamilton County is its own region,” said Deputy City Solicitor Emily Smart Woerner. “[For] that money, there's a separate board that will award money to projects — again for these uses — but the city will not have a direct say on that.”

Council Members Victoria Parks and Meeka Owens are on the committee that will distribute the state’s portion of the settlement.

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.