A new settlement agreement will pay Aroostook County more than $1 million for opioid abatement programs.

The settlement with CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Teva and Allergan is in addition to $1.5 million in National Opioid Settlement monies paid to The County by drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, starting last November.

The settlements rose out of national litigation related to the excessive harm caused by the distribution of billions of highly addictive prescription pain pills over nearly a decade, which led to an unprecedented opioid epidemic in the U.S. People can become addicted to opioids within a few days, according to health experts.

“It’s the No. 1 issue in Aroostook County,” Aroostook County Administrator Ryan Pelletier said on Thursday.

Enough prescription pain pills, 41 pills per person, per day, per year — 26,656,340 — were supplied to Aroostook County from 2006 to 2014, according to data from the Drug Enforcement Administration compiled and analyzed by the Washington Post. The administration tracks every legal pain pill sold.

The top five County distributors were Cardinal Health, 8.5 million pills; McKesson Corp., 5.4 million; WalMart, 4.3 million; Eckerd Corp., 3.1 million; and Rite Aid, 2.1 million. The

Houlton WalMart supplied 2.8 million legal pain pills, which equals 580 pills per person residing in Houlton, according to the Washington Post data.

There were 478 fatal overdoses last year in Maine, with four in Aroostook County. The majority involved heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioids, according to the Maine Monthly Overdose Report for February.

The County received a portion of the state’s total settlement funds of more than $130 million. Aroostook County’s portion is the sixth highest, behind York County, Penobscot County, Bangor, Kennebec County and Lewiston. Pelletier said he is not sure how the amounts were calculated.

To assure the County receives the new settlement funds from CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Teva and Allergan, Pelletier filed the paperwork with the Maine Attorney General’s Office a few weeks ago to meet the April 18 deadline, he said.

The Aroostook County Commissioners ratified Pelletier’s filing during their meeting Wednesday in Houlton.

The Johnson & Johnson $1,485,180 settlement payout will be distributed over several years until 2038.

The state will get $14,196,305 from Walmart; the County’s portion is $172,643 in a one-time payment. CVS and Walgreens will pay the state $52,329,351; the County portion is $636,387. The CVS payment is spread over 10 years and Walgreens over 15 years. The Teva and Allergan total to the state is $31,787, 022; the County portion of that total is $386,566. Teva’s payment is spread over 13 years and Allergan’s over 7 years, according to the Maine attorney general’s office.

The funds must be spent on opioid abatement activities including prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery programs, Pelletier said.

Still, the County has decided to wait before spending the settlement funds.

“We’re keeping that money separate right now,” Pelletier said during the County Commissioners meeting.

It is currently in a separate fund, Pelletier said, adding that he has been holding back until he knows where the state is going with their settlement funds.

Pelletier said the newly formed 15-member Maine Recovery Council has not decided what they will do with their 50 percent of the state’s $131 million in opioid settlement money.

The council will look at statewide needs for fighting the opioid crisis, Pelletier said.

“I feel there is an opportunity for us to partner with the state, so I don’t want us to come up with our own plan until we see what the state has in mind,” he told the commissioners. “We’re not rushing to spend it.”

Correction: This story has been amended to reflect payout amounts for Maine and Aroostook County.

Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli is a reporter covering the Houlton area. Over the years, she has covered crime, investigations, health, politics and local government, writing for the Washington Post, the LA...