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A Community Framework for Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

“How much money will it take to prevent one opioid overdose death? How about 10, or 10,000?

“Across the country, state, local and tribal governments are filing suit against the pharmaceutical industry and are trying to answer this question. U.S. District Court Judge Dan. A. Polster of the Northern District of Ohio, who is presiding over many of these cases, earlier this year ordered the parties to begin discussing a settlement. His hope was to avoid protracted litigation, an important goal considering that the opioid epidemic claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people in 2016 and continues to claim more than a hundred every day.

“State and local governments have shouldered much of the financial and societal burden created by the opioid epidemic. Rahul Gupta, the commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, told a U.S. House committee last month that the epidemic is costing his state’s economy $8.8 billion every year. A settlement of the opioid litigation is likely to provide substantial funding for addressing the epidemic. Spending that money wisely will require governments to look across the board for solutions by applying a continuum of care model to prevent and treat opioid abuse and sustain recovery for individuals with opioid-use disorders.

“The Addiction Solutions Campaign recently released a comprehensive policy document with recommendations for how funds from a settlement of the opioid litigation should be invested to address the epidemic. An important complement is a community engagement strategy so communities and their members are fully engaged in the policies and programs that are implemented.”

FULL STORY published June 11, 2018 via GOVERNING

For resources and details of work being done in Southwest PA, visit CONNECT’s Health Policy page.