SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A settlement with pharmaceutical distributors and a manufacturer that resolves claims they helped fuel the opioid epidemic could net South Dakota about $50 million, the state's attorney general announced Thursday, July 22.

States have 30 days to opt into the $26 billion settlement with three pharmaceutical distributors -- McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Corp. -- and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, which would also then require convincing local governments to join the settlement as well.

Under the settlement, the pharmaceutical distributors would pay a combined $21 billion over 18 years and Johnson & Johnson would pay $5 billion over nine years, with $3.7 billion paid during the first three years.

Each state's cut of the settlement would be determined by the degree of participation by both state and local governments, and will be calculated by an agreement between states on a formula that measures the impact of the opioid epidemic on each state: its population, the number of overdose deaths, the number of residents with substance abuse disorder and the number of opioids prescribed.

The money would primarily go toward funding opioid addiction treatment and prevention programs.

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Numerous national news outlets have reported 40 states are expected to sign on to the settlement, and if a Thursday statement from South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is any indication, he wants South Dakota on board.

"This is a big step on the long path toward making things better for so many individuals and families who have seen their lives torn apart by addiction," he said in a news release. "This settlement has the potential to bring approximately $50 million to the people of South Dakota, spread out over the next 17 years, to help our state and help our families who have been affected by the ravages of opioid addiction."

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg
South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg

The settlement would be the largest attorney general multi-state enforcement action in history other than the tobacco master settlement agreement, Ravnsborg said.