By Conrad Dudderar
Canadian County is eligible to receive about $400,000 from a settlement with opioid distributors.
Canadian County government officials will use the proceeds toward abatement of the opioid crisis.
In June, Oklahoma reached a $250 million settlement with three companies that distributed opioids in the state – McKesson, Cardinal and AmerisourceBergen.
Funds will be used to prevent and treat opioid addiction, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor said.
The opioid epidemic has “deeply impacted the lives” of four million Oklahoma citizens, O’Connor said.
Canadian County Commissioners unanimously approved the opioid distributor settlement at their Aug. 29th meeting.
They reviewed an agreement prepared by a law firm the Attorney General’s Office is using to settle the litigation.
“This document that’s presented to you is the settlement that the state reached with three distributors,” Canadian County Assistant District Attorney Tommy Humphries told commissioners.
“This is not all of the retailers or manufacturers. This is with three distributors.”
The distributors identified 39 entities to distribute settlement funds.
That list includes Canadian County, which is Oklahoma’s fourth-largest county by population.
“They feel like some of the money should go to us,” Humphries added.
Canadian County “can expect around $400,000” based on its population, the assistant ADA learned.
Canadian County’s official population is 154,405, according to 2020 U.S. Census data. The population increased by 33.5% from the 2010 Census.
Canadian County is the fastest-growing county in Oklahoma, officials said.
By signing the agreement in this opioid distributor settlement, Canadian County Commissioners waived their right to file a lawsuit against the three companies.
FIGHTING OPIOID CRISIS
Canadian County officials must determine how they will spend their estimated $400,000 in settlement proceeds to help prevent opioid abuse.
“That is going to be distributed over anywhere from eight to 15 years,” Humphries advised commissioners. “I’ve got a list, it’s about 15 pages of approved uses. So, they’ve told us how we can spend the money.
“Because of the distribution schedule, they’re suggesting that you find some ‘year-to-year’ program and know it will be funded many years on out.”
An exact amount has not yet been determined, but this opioid settlement should provide Canadian County $30,000-$40,000 annually.
These proceeds will not be assigned to any specific county department.
Canadian County could use the money to fund an existing program.
One example is Narcan nasal spray, which is used by sheriff’s deputies to treat a possible opioid overdose. The spray contains Naloxone, which blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication.
Canadian County officials also could identify a new opioid addiction-combatting program to fund with their settlement dollars.
The Oklahoma AG’s Office filed suit against the three distributors to hold them accountable for their role in creating and fueling a nationwide opioid epidemic.
“Many Oklahoma families have been ravaged and lives have been lost by opioid addictions and overdoses,” O’Connor said. “Money cannot possibly heal those wounds or bring back our loved ones.
“The funds we are recovering will be used to prevent and treat addictions to opioids.”