County leaders prepare to use opioid settlement funds
Opioid-related deaths are on the rise across the country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the months of May 2019 to May 2020 set the record for the most drug overdose deaths in a single year.
For this reason, New York county leaders are preparing to use the money the state recently raised from opioid drug makers for drug treatment and prevention programs.
“We owe it to the next generation to end forever the cycle of addiction created by opioids and opioid derivative addiction, which has claimed too many deaths, too many lives cut short and too much heartache for their families,” he said. said Stephen Acquario, Managing Director. director of the New York State Association of Counties.
Albany County recorded more drug overdose deaths in 2020 than any recent year, according to Albany County Director Dan McCoy.
And Erie County in 2020 saw a 50% increase in drug overdose deaths compared to 2019.
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a bill called the “Opioid Settlement Fund Lockbox,” which will require all money raised from settlements with opioid manufacturers to be spent on drug abuse prevention, education and treatment. .
It’s coming just in time, as the state attorney general’s office has settled major lawsuits against at least two large pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma.
The two settlements will each pay more than $ 200 million to the state.
“We intend to work with the Attorney General, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature to ensure that an appropriate regional balance is in place so that all counties in the state, whether you are in Orleans County, Allegheny County, Chemung County, Broome County, Long Island or New York City can all benefit from better treatment, prevention and recovery programs, ”he said. declared Acquario.
The State County Association and the State Association of County Coroners and Forensic Pathologists have revamped a video campaign to raise awareness of the warning signs of possible opioid addiction.
Scott Schmidt, president of the New York State Association of Coroners and Forensic Pathologists, said the money from the settlement fund was needed not only to help people access available resources, but also for staff. and specialized kits that can test synthetic drugs like fentanyl.
“These are funds that we desperately need … and this money will help us enormously to move forward in the eradication of this terrible epidemic and unnecessary deaths because everyone around our management table, everyone in our association, is tired of burying our friends, our neighbors, our family because of this thing, ”Schmidt said.