As reported in the Democrat last Tuesday, Legislators have adopted a five-year spending plan for the first round of monies received as part of a settlement agreement stemming from class action …
As reported in the Democrat last Tuesday, Legislators have adopted a five-year spending plan for the first round of monies received as part of a settlement agreement stemming from class action lawsuits against various opioid distributors and manufacturers. Sullivan County could ultimately see a few million as a result of lawsuits against opioid manufacturers.
The approved plan, which is subject to an annual review, set the following spending limits from July 2022 to July 2023: Sullivan County Drug Task Force staffing and training ($233,000); Pre-Arrest diversion ($30,000); Prevention and education ($89,800); Transportation support ($87,000); Video surveillance assets for use in narcotics investigations ($180,000); Harm reduction support ($6,500); and Drug drop off site expansion ($6,000).
This settlement money is in addition to the Legislature authorizing additional expenditures from its general fund to combat substance use in the County, including money to assist with law enforcement investigations and financial assistance to Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster for the purpose of expanding services at their existing location in Monticello.
The settlement money and other funds will help to combat the scourge of the opioid epidemic which has taken far too many lives in Sullivan County and throughout our region. Funds that will help support our social workers and maintain their certifications to provide services, as well as attract new people to the profession, will help ensure that everyone who seeks help is able to receive it.
While it’s a good thing that this money is going toward helping people in our communities who need it, let’s not forget where it comes from. Major pharmaceutical companies acted recklessly, deploying deceptive and unethical practices, in the production and marketing of opioids that resulted in a lot of death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths from opioids nationally increased to 75,673 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, up from 56,064 the year before. Every one of those people meant the world to someone else, and the true extent of their loss is not something that can be quantified in dollars.
We can, however, ensure that other lives are saved and give other families a second chance. We must continue to hold manufacturers of dangerous drugs accountable for their role in creating this public health crisis.
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