Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says the national opioid-related settlements a half dozen businesses have agreed to pay must be spent to address the opioid crisis.

“There’s strong restrictions on how the money will be spent,” Miller says. “Strong in the sense that they have to be spent on abating the nuisance. It’s developed as a nuisance case and abatement is the remedy, but dealing with the opioid issue. My hope is that the focus will be on prevention and treatment.”

Opioid makers and distributors have so far agreed to pay states and local governments around $50 billion to settle lawsuits over the marketing and sale of opioids. In 1998, tobacco companies agreed to pay $246 billion over 25 years in a national settlement, but much of that money has been spent on initiatives that have nothing to do with smoking.

“We all learned a lot from the tobacco case in many ways,” Miller says, “including the use of the money that would come in.”

Miller was among the attorneys general who negotiated the settlement with cigarette makers. He also worked more recently on national settlements with mortgage lenders and the anti-trust case against Microsoft.

Miller, who has been Iowa’s attorney general for nearly 40 years, lost his campaign for an 11th term and will be leaving office at the end of the year.

Radio Iowa