Kitsap County and its towns are set to receive a total of $7.6 million over the next 17 years as part of a $518 million settlement with three drugmakers for their role in fueling the opioid crisis in the state.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced last week that the state would share the settlement it secured with three drugmakers — McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. – with local governments.
In addition to Kitsap County, which is eligible to receive about $5.6 million in the settlement, all of its cities are eligible for part of the settlement: Bremerton is eligible for about $1.3 million, Bainbridge Island about 293 $000, Port Orchard around $217,000 and Poulsbo around $166,000.
Local governments had to sign an agreement to participate in the settlement as well as a memorandum of understanding, or memorandum of understanding, with the state by the end of September.
“We are moving from the legal arena where this has been going on for more than four years to the process of allocation and implementation,” said Doug Washburn, director of social services for Kitsap County, referring to 2018. , when Kitsap County filed its lawsuit against several opioid manufacturers and distributors over deaths and other suffering, it said the opioid crisis caused in the county.
Washburn said the state allocates the funds to local jurisdictions at the regional level, and Kitsap County is in the Olympic region along with Clallam and Jefferson counties. All three counties agreed to participate in the settlement and signed the “One Washington MOU”.
The three counties have drafted an inter-local agreement that will designate the Salish Behavioral Health Administrative Services Organization (SBH-ASO) as the Olympic Opioid Reduction Council for the allocation and distribution of opioid funds, he said. declared. Salish already administers mental health and addictions and mental health disorders treatment programs, and “is uniquely suited to manage and distribute opioid funds allocated to Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties,” according to Washburn.
Washburn said that depending on how the money is used, it could mean an additional $300,000 a year for treatment, prevention and other programs to address the epidemic of opioid abuse.
Payments for years 1 and 2 of the settlement will be issued on December 1, meaning jurisdictions will receive double the amount in year one. They will also have to pay 15% of their nominated amount in attorneys’ fees. Administrative fees are also limited to 10% of payments. “So most of that will go to direct services, which is also good,” Washburn said.
In addition to the money provided to local governments, the state will also spend its share of the settlement in local communities, according to the attorney general’s office.
In 2021, there were 35 opioid-related deaths among Kitsap County residents, according to data provided by Kitsap Public Health. Of these, preliminary data shows that 23 of these deaths were fentanyl-related.
Opioid-related deaths have been steadily increasing since 2017. Deaths numbered 22 that year. Between 2019 and 2020, opioid-related deaths in Kitsap County rose from 22 to 33, marking a record number, only to be beaten by the number in 2021.
Dr Gib Morrow, Kitsap’s public health officer, said drug overdose deaths are only part of the overall suffering resulting from opioid addiction, citing serious resulting health problems , as well as incarceration, economic hardship, and the impact of addiction on family members and the community.
“Prescription drug use drove the early stages of this crisis, and opioid manufacturers and distributors are responsible for much of this significant disease burden,” Morrow said in a statement. at Kitsap Sun. “This financial settlement will not solve the problem but will provide much needed funding for prevention and treatment.”
Local governments can spend the money on a range of programs focused on opioid treatment and prevention.
The settlement money announced by Ferguson earlier this month is the first cash payout cities and counties in Washington state will see as a result of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers. In March, Ferguson announced a multi-million dollar settlement with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, makers of Oxycontin. But the settlement was delayed by an appeal by the Sackler family of a proposed bankruptcy plan to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
Brionna Aho, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general’s office, said the office expects a $208 million settlement from Purdue if the bankruptcy plan is approved. She said the money from this settlement would be distributed in three ways:
- The five largest counties in the state (King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Clark) will receive direct payments worth $76 million.
- The other 34 counties in the state will receive disbursements totaling $40 million.
- A third bucket, with $92 million, will go to the Legislature to spend on “reducing opioids.”
Kimberly Rubenstein is the local editor of Kitsap Sun. She can be reached at [email protected] or 360-792-5263. Support local news coverage by signing up for a digital subscription today.