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Funds distributed across the state can be used for treatment, prevention, safety and recovery

COURTESY PHOTO: U.S. ATTORNEYS OFFICE FOR UTAH - Fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah. The amount of blue depends on how much blue dye the amateur manufacturer adds to the mix, but the basic ingredients are aspirin with small amounts of the opioid fentanyl. , Portland Tribune - News Addicts and first timers are both at risk from poisoned pills like never before. Fentanyl blues: Killing us softly

Jefferson County has received part of a national settlement in opioid lawsuits. The settlement involves a total of approximately $333 million for the State of Oregon over the course of 18 years. The funds have a variety of potential uses, and each individual recipient can determine their own plan for the funds.

The state itself will manage 45% of these total funds, about $150 million dollars. The other 55% is being distributed across cities and counties in the state. Jefferson County's portions amounts to about .367% of the total, about $670,000. That distribution is based on population models of the cities and counties.

The individual municipalities are allowed to self-determine the usage of the funds within their area. With minimal restrictions on specific fund use, general themes of prevention, treatment and recovery support are given as guideposts for municipalities to follow.

The Oregon Health Authority has examples of potential fund usage. They give examples like expanding access to life saving treatments for overdose like naloxone, sterile syringes and harm reduction. They suggest funds could be used for increasing medication-assisted treatment, increasing treatment and support services, and developing opioid prevention education and training.

The funds come from three global settlements, that will distribute a total of $26 billion across the country to thousands of communities. The funds come from settlements with AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

The settlements mark the culmination of years of litigation on the part of the National Prescription Opiate Litigation. The groups Plantiffs' Executive Committee said in a statement "The bottom line from this news is that help is on the way for first responders and healthcare workers on the front lines of this public health crisis. While nothing can truly make whole what was lost in this country, what we can do is ensure that thousands of communities nationwide have the tools they need to prevent the opioid epidemic from taking more lives."

The settlement comes as opiates and fentanyl use are on the rise across the nation and in Central Oregon. Fentanyl, a dangerous form of opiate that is often disguised as other pills, is 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin. A 3-milligram dose of fentanyl — a few grains of the substance — is enough to kill an average adult male.

The fund distribution timeline is still not finalized, and the county has not determined what these funds may be used for. Future settlements with drug companies may increase or change the funding for the state.


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