States could get billions from opioid lawsuits. They have to decide how to spend it

The endgame of the sprawling mass of opioid lawsuits is starting to come into focus: Already, a settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three major drug distributors will pour billions of dollars into communities to combat the addiction crisis, with more to come.

But what that looks like, exactly, will vary from place to place. States are likely to see lump sums of money doled out for years, and they will be left to decide how to spend it under the guideposts set up in the settlements. It could easily become subject to competing interests: Legislatures could squabble with governors over priorities, while in some places, counties could demand more autonomy. Some public health experts are also raising questions about the quality of addiction programs to which states could allocate funding.

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States could get billions from opioid lawsuits. They have to decide how to spend it

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