From a press release
Delaware County Council Chair Monica Taylor, Ph.D. and District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer joined Attorney General Josh Shapiro on September 13 in Media to announce a $62.5 million opioid settlement with pharmaceutical distributors.
The county will receive annual payments for 18 years in an average amount of $3.5 million. The funds are the result of the combined legal actions taken by the county, state, and the district attorney. The first two payments, totaling $7.36M, will be received in two portions, the first of which was received on August 31, 2022. The funding will be used to tackle the devastating opioid epidemic affecting Delaware County residents, their loved ones, and the community.
“There is no amount of money that could ever account for the lives that opioids have taken and ruined, but we can use these settlement funds to educate residents with a focus on prevention and recovery and work to tackle the scourge of opioid abuse that has caused devastation in our community,” said Taylor.
The settlement funds will support programs directly related to the impacts of opioid overuse and addiction. To ensure that the funds are used to combat the opioid crisis to the best of their ability, Delaware County has formed an interdepartmental and interdisciplinary task force to provide recommendations to County Council for short-term and immediate uses, as well as long-term programming that can be supported by the new funding.
The taskfForce will coordinate with medical professionals on the county’s Board of Health and experts in the field of recovery to assess community needs and will work closely with the county’s diversity, equity, and inclusion officer to address racial disparities surrounding opioid use. The task force will ensure that the funding is used to create and expand programs that will save lives and impact families across the county.
The county will also seek public input, review what neighboring counties are doing, and identify gaps in its approaches. Data collection and review will include adult death reviews, overlap with mental health, and non-fatal overdose reviews.
“My office looks forward to working with county officials, treatment providers, and community stakeholders as we devise the best strategy for getting this funding to the places that will do the most good for the most people,” said Stollsteimer. “Nothing can undo the harm the opioid industry has inflicted on families across our county. Countless lives have been lost, and families irreparably broken as a consequence of this relentless epidemic. The funding announced today will provide critical support for overdose prevention and for services for those suffering from opioid addiction.”
The task force had its first meeting a week after the first portion of the settlement was received and will reassemble later in September before presenting its recommendations to County Council in October.
The funds come from the $26 billion global settlement with Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, three major pharmaceutical distributors of opioids. Delaware County was the first county in the state to sue for damages against 11 major drug suppliers of opioids and their consulting physicians.
“Today marks the day when the companies who fueled this crisis and peddled these narcotics for profit, pay up to the communities they targeted with resources to change the tide in battling this epidemic,” said Shapiro.” It is going to take the help of local leaders, who know best what this community needs, to invest these resources to yield the greatest impact and save lives. Our office will hold any company that targets our communities with poisons and puts profits above people accountable for the harm caused.”
The funding from the settlement must be used to combat the opioid crisis and is restricted to certain remediation purposes such as Naloxone training and distribution for first responders, schools, community support groups and families, medication-assisted treatment, expansion of warm hand-off programs and recovery services, prevention programs and treatment for incarcerated populations.