HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Attorney General Josh Shapiro just announced that 50 of Pennsylvania’s counties agreed to join the opioid settlement that would bring more than $1 billion to the Commonwealth.

“Pennsylvania lost 5,172 lives to overdoses in the last year alone, which is 14 Pennsylvanians a day,” Shapiro said in a press release. “This settlement is going to provide resources to jumpstart programs that will change lives and impact families across our Commonwealth who are struggling to find treatment and help for those suffering with substance abuse.”

The opioid settlement funds will offer and expand life-saving treatment options while prioritizing the areas that have been most affected by the crisis.

In the local area, Bedford, Cambria, Cameron, Clearfield, Huntingdon and Jefferson counties have joined the settlement agreement.

According to Shapiro, the $26 billion global settlement with Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and Johnson & Johnson requires significant industry changes that will prevent this type of crisis from happening again in addition to the funds.

Pennsylvania has been one of the leading states in negotiating this settlement, he added.

The settlement stipulates that every dollar of funding must be used to combat the opioid crisis, although it is up to local governments to decide where the funds will be allocated.

The remaining 17 counties and multiple subdivisions have until January to sign onto the settlement, and Shapiro is urging them to do so as soon as possible.

“Continuing litigation is incredibly risky, as we’ve seen in Oklahoma where a $465 million judgment was overturned by the state Supreme Court after being on appeal for years, and in California where a number of counties and cities lost their case after seven years in court,” he said. “We can’t afford to wait. We need these funds flowing into our communities now.

“No dollar amount will bring back all that we have lost, but this settlement will give communities the money to save lives now”

For more information on the settlement, visit Shapiro’s website or click here to view the facts sheet.

Get daily updates on local news, weather and sports by signing up for the WTAJ Newsletter