HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – States across the country are set to receive $26 billion as a result of the national opioid settlement with three major pharmaceutical distributors, and one manufacturer.
Pennsylvania is slated to receive over $1 billion from the settlement, and now state officials are discussing their plans.
In 2021, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the national settlement with opioid distributors Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and manufacturer Johnson and Johnson over their role in the nationwide opioid crisis.
This week, Shapiro says his office is using every tool available to provide relief.
“That includes holding drug companies that fueled this crisis, that manufactured this crisis, accountable,” said Shapiro.
After leading a group of states to the historic agreement last summer, Shapiro says it’s now time to get the money to where it is needed most.
“We believe that these resources will help provide more treatment and more capacity to county and local organizations,” said Shapiro.
This January, Shapiro announced that all 67 counties, including more than 240 local governments with a population of 10,000 or more, signed on to the national settlement.
This week, the Office of Attorney General is filing consent decrees with Commonwealth Court to make the settlement effective. Once approved, an independent trust, known as the Pennsylvania Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust, will oversee disbursement of payments.
“The trust is the legal entity that will be overseeing the distribution of this money out to the counties and the local governments,” said Shapiro.
The independent trust will consist of appointments from the Governor, the General Assembly, and various counties.
A breakdown of where the settlement dollars are headed is below:
- 70% to counties based on the combined metrics of overdose deaths, opioid use disorder hospitalizations, naloxone administrations, and percentage of opioid shipments;
- 15% to litigating counties, subdivisions, district attorneys, and special districts; and
- 15% to the commonwealth as a whole to be appropriated by the legislature.
“These dollars and the efforts they support are about providing opportunities for all Pennsylvanians to access life-saving services,” said Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith.
Smith says there are a number of programs and initiatives the funding will help establish or enhance.
“Expanding and supporting the use of naloxone and medication assisted treatment, establishing substance use disorder crisis services, employing harm reduction strategies where possible, creating or expanding drug courts and law enforcement diversion programs, and supporting our first responders and those on the front lines of this epidemic,” said Smith. “With the influx of these opioid settlement dollars, I am confident that going forward we will all be in a position to help even more individuals throughout Pennsylvania who so desperately need and deserve our support,” Smith added.
Smith says the funding will especially help those who can’t afford or don’t have access to treatment services.
“Opportunities to reach underserved individuals struggling with substance use disorder, while also enhancing current programs and having the ability to create sustainable programs and to bolster existing programs,” said Smith
Attorney General Shapiro said the historic settlement might serve as an example for the future.
“We’re hopeful that this settlement can be used as a model for others going forward, based on the numerous investigations that we have ongoing with other pharmaceutical companies,” said Shapiro.
Shapiro said if all goes according to plan, the independent trust will distribute two payments this year to counties. The first, later this spring, and another in the fall.
The dollars must be used for opioid remediation programs and initiatives. A list of approved uses is available here.