Addiction & Overdose

Preparing States and Local Governments for Opioid Settlement Money

December 29, 2021

States, cities and counties will soon receive hundreds of millions of dollars from legal settlements with opioid manufacturers, pharmaceutical distributors and pharmacies for their role in the opioid epidemic that has claimed more than half a million lives over the past two decades.

But are these jurisdictions ready to spend the money to best address an opioid crisis that continues to grip the country?

Earlier this year, a team of faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health –part of the Bloomberg Overdose Prevention Initiative – worked with other organizations across the country to outline a set of principles for state and local leaders to use in making these spending decisions. More than 60 organizations have endorsed The Principles for the Use of Funds from the Opioid Litigation. The Principles call on leaders to prioritize strategies that save lives, use evidence to guide spending, invest in youth prevention, focus on racial equity, and develop a fair and transparent process for spending the funding.

Now, the team from the Bloomberg School and volunteers from the endorsing organizations have also created a set of ten indicators based on the Principles that state and local officials – and the public –  can use to assess if they are ready to receive and spend the funds wisely.  

Some jurisdictions have already started preparing by establishing funds to receive payments, prohibiting the diversion of funds to uses other than the opioid crisis, appointing advisory committees, and creating processes for spending decisions. Many have done this by passing legislation. 

Other states looking to the legislative process can use or adapt model legislation created by the Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association and partners with support from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

For more information visit the Principles for the Use of Opioid Settlements website.

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