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Most Counties Agree To Negotiate Opioid Settlements As 'OneOhio'

State and local governments across the country accuse drug companies of fueling the opioid crisis. [WoodysPhotos / Shutterstock]
State and local governments across the country accuse drug companies of fueling the opioid crisis.

Dozens of cities and 73 of Ohio’s 88 counties have signed on to a statewide opioid plan for potential settlements with drug companies, Gov. Mike DeWine’s office announced Wednesday.

The OneOhio plan would direct 30 percent of total settlement dollars to local governments. A statewide foundation would handle 55 percent and the remaining 15 would go to the attorney general’s office.

The foundation’s board would include members representing state officials and local jurisdictions.

The state and numerous local governments have sued drug companies over the opioid crisis.

“I am pleased that Ohio’s communities have agreed to come together as OneOhio,” DeWine said in a written statement provided by his office. “It’s a simple concept, but when we are united, we are stronger

The plan could be a tool for reaching wider-scale settlements with drug company defendants, according to Frank Gallucci, an attorney who represents Cuyahoga County and other local governments.

“It could be used statewide, but the other benefit of the OneOhio memorandum is it is something that other states can replicate,” Gallucci said.

The state’s opioid lawsuit heads to trial in August in Ross County. Cuyahoga and Summit counties have a trial against pharmacy chains scheduled for November in federal court.

The proposal has also received support from the team of attorneys representing thousands of plaintiffs in the massive federal opioid lawsuit. Attorneys Paul T. Farrell Jr., Paul J. Hanly Jr. and Joe Rice released a statement Wednesday calling the agreement a “milestone moment” for Ohio.

“The ‘OneOhio’ plan is a blueprint that will help bring Ohioans one step closer to securing essential resources for families, first responders, and medical professionals who continue to battle the opioid epidemic day in and day out across the state,” the statement said.

The deal still allows for individual settlements — like the kind Cuyahoga and Summit counties reached last year — within 30 days of trial.

Cuyahoga County Council this week approved  a plan to begin spending $23 million from that settlement on drug treatment and other services.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.