West Lake Hills and Rollingwood are joining the nationwide multibillion-dollar legal settlement against four major pharmaceutical companies accused of wrongdoing amid the opioid epidemic, according to city documents.

West Lake Hills City Council voted unanimously in favor of joining the settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three pharmaceutical distributors at its Dec. 8 meeting, and Rollingwood joined previously in October. According to state documents, the settlement could allot West Lake Hills $17,056 and Rollingwood $4,754, though the total depends on how many municipalities sign on.

The settlement can be used toward a variety of opioid-related relief, such as prevention programs or training for first responders to drug-related overdoses.

“This sounds like a no-brainer if there ever was one,” Mayor Linda Anthony said. “We look to see what other small cities are doing in terms of prevention, but the first step is to try and join in on the settlement and try to get access to the funds.”

Texas is among many states that have joined the settlement agreement. McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health are the drug distributors involved in the settlement, along with drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The state accused the companies of reckless marketing and fraudulent distribution of opioids resulting in addictions and overdoses, according to documents issued by the state.

“It’s not just an abstract thing,” said Gordon Bowman, West Lake Hills council member. “I coached two kids for several years through baseball, little league and West Lake Hills Basketball Association teams, and both of them died, [overdosed] from heroin. And that’s Westlake High School.”

The settlement includes more accountability and monitoring for drug distributors and bans Johnson & Johnson from selling opioids, according to a press release from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The drug distributor and Johnson & Johnson agreement totals $26 billion in payments over 18 years, and the amount states receive is dependent upon the allocation agreements set by the state’s attorney general, the press release said.

In October, Paxton announced a $290 million statewide opioid settlement with Johnson & Johnson in a press release, which he said brings the total settlement for Texas to around $1.5 billion. The deadline for subdivisions within the state to apply is Jan. 2, according to the attorney general’s website.

“It does bring money to the city of Rollingwood,” City Administrator Amber Lewis said. “This funding is used for opioid education and treatment, which is obviously an important endeavor in Rollingwood and all Texas communities.”

Since becoming Rollingwood chief of police in 2019, Jason Brady told Community Impact Newspaper he has not encountered a case related to opioids in the city. Officers are still equipped with and trained to administer Narcan, an opioid overdose treatment.

“It’s good to know that we’ve taken precautions and our officers have been issued and trained in the use of Narcan,” Brady said. “Should we arrive before the paramedics, it’s a tool we have to mitigate those types of situations.”