Monday, Dec. 05, 2022 |
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Hawaii will receive $78 million as part of a $26 billion nationwide opioid settlement.
The funds are expected to go toward treatment, prevention and education, as well as other abatement strategies.
“Fatalities from drug poisoning have outpaced auto accidents in Hawaii this year,” Gov. David Ige said during a press briefing Tuesday. “Too many of us know children, spouses, neighbors or colleagues who are suffering every day from the impacts of drug addiction and misuse.”
The settlement was reached between three large drug distributors — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — and one manufacturer, Johnson &Johnson.
From the three distributors, the state will receive roughly $63 million over an 18-year period, and from Johnson &Johnson, the state will receive $15 million over a nine-year period.
“Thanks to this collective statewide effort spearheaded by Gov. Ige and our health care providers, our counties will each be able to receive much-needed resources to combat the opioid crisis that we see island-to-island,” said Mayor Mitch Roth in a statement. “Many of our first responders and local nonprofit organizations have been working in the trenches to keep our families safe and free from the adverse effects of opioids and other illicit substances, and now we can look to amplify their efforts through this settlement.”
An advisory committee consisting of state and county representatives will be formed to direct distribution of the funds, and a statewide needs assessment will be completed first to determine the individual needs of each county.
“This will help the advisory committee to shape future activities and direct funding to where it is needed most,” Ige said. “Each year, at least 15% of the total will be spent at the county level, and each county will determine how its respective share is spent.”
An estimated 85% of the funds will be spent in consultation with the advisory committee for opioid treatment, prevention and education, with the other 15% to be used to address other drugs and substances in the community.
“It’s a great opportunity for Hawaii Island to get more aggressive in prevention and treatment,” said Big Island addiction medicine specialist Dr. Kevin Kunz. “Most substance users today are using multiple substances, which makes treatment harder, and that’s why it’s even more important that we focus on prevention as well as treatment.”
Fentanyl, which now takes the life of one Big Island resident every 11 days, is considered a synthetic opioid and will be targeted by the settlement.
“One-hundred percent of these funds should be dedicated to preventing and treating addiction,” Kunz said. “The huge tobacco settlement funds were dispersed widely. Hawaii needs all of this settlement to address the ongoing epidemic, and to get ahead of another generation of lives tragically off course because of addiction.”
Additional settlements are expected in the near future.
“Other anticipated settlements with major drug makers will contribute millions more to the state and county abatement efforts,” Ige said. “Cases against and investigations into other opioid actors are ongoing, and Hawaii could see millions more when these are included.”
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