Charleston, W.Va. — West Virginia, the state with the highest drug-overdose death rate in the country, has started distributing checks from a fund established as part of a settlement for opioid lawsuits.
The Kanawha County Commission announced on Thursday that it has received a $2.9 million check, while the Mercer County Commission received $1.9 million last week. These funds were allocated as part of a memorandum of understanding reached between State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, and legal representatives for cities and counties in West Virginia.
As outlined in the agreement, approximately three-fourths of the settlement money, totaling around $1 billion, will be distributed by the designated board. A quarter of the funds will be directly provided to local communities, while 3% will remain in trust.
To ensure that the settlement funds are utilized appropriately, Morrisey informed the Kanawha County Commission that his office, in collaboration with the state auditor's office, has formed a partnership. It is mandatory that all the funds are used to combat the opioid crisis by supporting addiction treatment, recovery and prevention programs, as well as aiding law enforcement in anti-drug efforts.
The Kanawha County Commission will convene a meeting on Jan. 11 to discuss how the received funds will be utilized. Further discussions are expected at subsequent meetings held by other county commissions in West Virginia.
West Virginia's Fight Against the Opioid Crisis: A Steady Stream of Funding
West Virginia has been unwavering in its pursuit of justice against drug manufacturers, distribution companies, and pharmacies involved in the opioid crisis. With over a dozen settlements and counting, the state continues to secure substantial financial agreements. These funds will be received on a staggered schedule, ensuring a steady influx of money until at least 2036.
Substantial Financial Support for West Virginia First Foundation
The most recent estimates suggest that the West Virginia First Foundation, a key player in combating the crisis, will receive an impressive $367 million over the next five years. This significant sum will undoubtedly bolster their efforts in providing vital resources and support to those affected by addiction.
A Multibillion-Dollar Wave of Settlements
Kroger Settlement: The Final Pieces Fall into Place
In May, West Virginia announced an essential $68 million settlement with Kroger—the final defendant in a lawsuit that also involved Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, and Rite Aid. This significant legal victory marked the successful conclusion of a battle for accountability and restitution. Walgreens settled for $83 million, Walmart for over $65 million, CVS for $82.5 million, and Rite Aid for up to $30 million.
Teva Settlement: A Commitment to Overdose Prevention
As part of West Virginia's 2022 settlement with Teva, the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy began receiving shipments of naloxone in September. This vital overdose-reversal drug will play a crucial role in saving lives and preventing further tragedy. The agreement serves as a testament to the state's commitment to comprehensive solutions in combating the opioid crisis.
With these settlements in place, West Virginia is poised to make a lasting impact on curbing the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic. The state's persistence and ability to secure substantial funds will undoubtedly fuel ongoing initiatives and support vital programs that pave the way toward recovery and healing.
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