NEW YORK — This week it was announced that Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $230 million to New York to settle claims that the company helped fuel the opioid crisis. The company says the settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing.
Tuesday, state leaders urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign into law legislation that would make sure those funds are only used for substance abuse services.
The 'opioid lockbox bill' was unanimously passed by both the NYS Assembly and Senate and would require all funds received by New York State as the result of litigation against opioid manufacturers be used to fund addiction treatment providers and services.
"If we don't give the funds to these organizations and treatment centers, how are we going to take care of this problem? We want to make sure that the dollars we get from these opiate manufacturers in these settlement cases make their way to people who need it most," said Assemblymember Bill Conrad.
People like Avi Israel, who lost his son to suicide after a battle with addiction and a struggle to find resources to help him. Israel founded "Save the Michaels of the World" to help others struggling with substance abuse find resources.
Israel joined New York State Attorney General Letitia James on a conference call Tuesday evening to call on Governor Cuomo to sign the bill and prevent that money from going into the general fund.
"If you really care about the people in New York State you should've signed it when you first got it," he said. "Out of respect to my son and thousands of people who lost their lives. Governor, it is time to show that you care."
Governor Cuomo has had the legislation on his desk for 10 days and has until midnight to sign it.
"I am hoping that the governor of the State of New York signs this legislation and the money will go directly to the people who have been impacted by this crisis to help them with their recovery," said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Conrad said if the governor does not sign the bill, lawmakers would need to get back to work.
"I would certainly support an effort to override the veto," he said.
2 On Your Side reached out to the governor's office for comment about this but did not hear back.