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$26 billion settlement with opioid manufacturers, distributors sends $525 million to Mass. prevention, treatment, recovery programs

A 10mg Oxycodone pill.
A 10mg Oxycodone pill.

More than half a billion dollars from a blockbuster settlement between Massachusetts and opioid manufacturers, marketers, and distributors will be allocated to opioid misuse treatment, prevention, and recovery programs across the state.

Attorney General Maura Healey announced her office’s resolution with companies who contributed to the opioid epidemic in July 2021. She gave an update on funding distribution this week.

“This was a $26 billion settlement that we recovered from drug companies, drug companies that flooded our communities with dangerous, dangerous opioids and got rich off our residents’ suffering," said Healey. "Our bipartisan investigation found that three major opioid distributors shipped thousands of suspicious orders into our state without regard for their legitimacy. We also allege that Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of these drugs.”

Healey, a Democrat, is a candidate for governor in this year’s election.

“This conduct enabled and perpetuated vast increases of opioid over prescribing and dispensing all over the state, and it multiplied the toll of addiction, overdose and death throughout our state and our country,” she said.

At a press conference Tuesday, Healey said her office is working to dedicate 100% of the recoveries from the settlement to opioid misuse prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery.

“So what this means for our state, it means over $525 million coming into Massachusetts over the next 18 years," said the AG. "Money is going to start to flow this spring. Over $200 million will be distributed directly to our municipalities. Every city and town and Massachusetts is going to benefit from this.”

Over $300 million is going to go into a statewide opioid recovery and remediation fund that is overseen by a council of public health experts, state, and municipal leaders.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, a candidate for lieutenant governor, gave an example of how the funds would impact her community — a Gateway City like Pittsfield, Holyoke, and Springfield.

“We are doing all that we can to build supportive housing within my community," said Driscoll. "That's housing with wraparound services. And it is really challenging, the housing needs tied into substance use disorder. These dollars are going to go a long way to helping us with day centers, with navigating treatment for folks who currently are housing insecure, with developing both the plans and the opportunity for transitional housing, for recovery centers, for treatment.”

“I have lost two of my three friends, Sean and Corey, to opioid overdose and the disease of addiction. I am living proof of the horrors of the opioid epidemic. And not a day goes by that I do not confront the death and destruction that opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies have caused our country and specifically our state,” said Cheryl Juaire, founder of Team Sharing, a support nonprofit for families who have lost loved ones due to opioid misuse. “It is our sincere hope that a significant amount of the money received by our state will be distributed to on the ground services such as harm reduction centers and recovery support organizations. These services, when working hand in hand with medication assisted treatment and other forms of opioid abatement, can and do make a tremendous amount of difference in our communities.”

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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