Somerset County signed a billion-dollar national opioid settlement, paving the way for the county to receive millions over several years.
Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announcement that Somerset and nine other Pennsylvania counties agreed to the $26 billion settlement with Cardnial, McKesson and AmerisoucreBergen — the county’s three major pharmaceutical distributors — and Johnson & Johnson.
The settlement stems from claims by state and local governments regarding the role of corporations in the opioid epidemic. It was announced in July.
“I’m encouraged to see so many counties sign on to this landmark settlement that will provide millions of dollars in resources starting next year to address this crisis,” Shapiro said. “There is still time for the remaining local governments to join in and I urge them to do so. This settlement will give communities the capacity and resources to save lives now.”
Sixty of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have accepted the settlement so far.
According to Somerset County Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes, the county will receive approximately $2.9 million over the next 18 years.
Tokar-Ickes said Somerset County is due to receive $690,000 of those funds this year. She noted that while they haven’t decided how to spend this money, it can be used for the following programs:
- To expand/support the use of naloxone and physician-assisted treatment, aka MAT).
- Treatment and screening of pregnant or postpartum women and babies.
- Warm transfers.
- Treatment of the prison population.
- Syringe service programs.
- Data collection and research.
- Enveloping services.
- Improve links with care.
- Drug courts/diversion programs.
- Risk reduction strategies.
- Support first responders.
“The Commissioners have had preliminary discussions with the County of Somerset Single County Authority about the settlement and are currently working together to develop a funding process to apply the funds into strategies that will meet the prevention and treatment priorities of the Somerset County,” Tokar-Ickes wrote in an email to the Daily American.
“We will receive $690,000 in 2022 and expect to receive the funds later this year. These funds are in addition to current or future funding received from the state for prevention and treatment and additional regulations along with other distributors could follow.”
Follow Eric Kieta on Twitter at @EricKietaDA.