Opioid trial

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois is expected to receive $760 million as part of a settlement with pharmaceutical distributors sued for their role in the opioid crisis, the state attorney general announced Friday.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office said the state’s share of a $26 billion opioid settlement agreement is the result of three years of talks.

The majority of the state’s award will be used for programs around the state aimed at prevention and recovery from opioid addiction. Money is expected to begin flowing to states and local governments as soon as April.

Raoul’s office said nearly all Illinois counties have signed onto the agreement, along with 104 municipalities. Individual payments for those local governments will be determined by a state panel, which will consider population, overdose deaths, opioid usage rates and the amount of opioids shipped to a region.

“I am committed to ensuring the money we secured through the settlement is distributed equitably to fund critical recovery and treatment programs in the counties and municipalities with the most urgent need,” Raoul said in a statement.

Most of the money is required to be used to address the nation’s opioid addiction and overdose epidemic, which has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths over the last two decades. The crisis has deepened during the coronavirus pandemic, with U.S. opioid-related deaths reaching a high of more than 76,000 in the 12 months that ended in April 2021, largely because of the spread of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.