Kentucky AG: Opioid settlement will help heal communities | Health
By BRUCE SCHREINER – Associated Press
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Kentucky’s share of nearly half a billion dollars from National Settlements with four companies for their role in the opioid addiction crisis will help heal communities that have been “ravaged by this poison,” state attorney general Daniel Cameron said Friday. .
Kentucky will receive $483 million from finalized settlements with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three major distributors, the Republican attorney general announced. The state’s legal fight dates back to when Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear served as attorney general.
“While today marks the end of negotiations, it is only the beginning of our healing,” Cameron said.
The Bluegrass State set up the framework to distribute its share of the settlement money.
Under a measure signed into law last year by Kentucky lawmakers, half of the proceeds from the state settlement will be distributed to local governments. The state will receive the other half.
“I can’t wait to see all the good that these funds will do,” Republican State Rep. Danny Bentley, who sponsored the bipartisan-backed bill last year, said Friday.
People also read…
Kentucky’s Opioid Reduction Advisory Commission is tasked with overseeing the state’s award, with plans to set up an application process so reduction programs can apply for funding.
“It’s time to put this epidemic behind us,” Cameron said at a press conference. “It’s time to put real dollars in the door to heal our communities that have been ravaged by this poison.”
The attorney general said the settlement money is expected to start flowing to state and local governments in the second quarter of this year, which begins in April. The payments will be spread over 18 years, he said.
“This funding cannot come quickly enough, and we will continue to work closely with the legislature and local governments to ensure that funds are spent on programs that will stop the cycle of addiction and help heal our communities,” Cameron said.
Successfully “turning the tide of this crisis” will require a broad response with “all of us as partners,” said state Senate Speaker Robert Stivers.
“Today is one more step toward our goal of saving lives and helping people seek the redemption they need to live better lives,” Stivers said.
A state report last year showed fatal drug overdoses in Kentucky rose nearly 50% in 2020, easily eclipsing the state’s earlier record.
“It’s not just numbers,” Cameron said. “They are friends, neighbors and loved ones.”
The rising death toll in Kentucky is due to opioid abuse. A key factor was the prevalence of fentanyl, according to the report. Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is increasingly being added to other illicit drugs to increase their potency.
Bentley said Friday the historic settlements mark “the beginning of a new day for Kentucky – a day of hope and a day of healing.” He also focused on the human toll of opioid addiction, saying it has “ravaged” his northeast Kentucky district for decades.
Friday’s announcement that nationwide regulations have been finalized will pave the way for $26 billion for state and local governments across the United States.
Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson announced the settlement plan last year, but the deal was contingent on the participation of a critical mass of state and local governments.
Cameron signed the agreement on behalf of Bluegrass State in August, his office said.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.