ARIZONA NEWS

Maricopa County receives first portion of national opioid settlement

Sep 18, 2022, 6:30 AM

(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)...

(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County received its first $4.7 million on Friday in the national opioid settlement with drug makers and distributors.

The $4.7 million is the first payment of an estimated $80 million to be paid out over the next 18 years for Cardinal, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson unlawfully marketing, promoting and dispensing prescription opioids, the county said in a press release.

Around $2.3 million of the first payment will be distributed to cites and towns in Maricopa County with 44% to the state and 56% to local governments.

“It’s truly heartbreaking how many lives have been lost, damaged, or altered by opioid abuse and misuse in our community. These prescription drugs that were supposed to help have too often caused pain and suffering,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said in the release.

“While we can’t undo what’s been done, this money will allow us to aggressively combat this epidemic by funding evidence-based recovery and prevention programs.”

Public Health will be responsible for distributing county funds and arranging payments to municipalities.

All funds must be spent with approved, nationally recognized strategies to address the opioid epidemic, according to the release.

Public health is currently developing the framework for a countywide substance use prevention and response plan.

Opioid overdose deaths per 100,000 people in Maricopa County went up from 5.2 in 2012 to 28.8 in 2021, while overdose death rates with synthetic opioids increased by over 6000%.

In 2020-21 around 91% of drug overdose deaths in the county were from ages 15-24 from synthetic opioids.

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Maricopa County receives first portion of national opioid settlement