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Watauga County Using Millions In Settlement Money To Fight Opioid Epidemic

Source: Watauga Democrat

Funding from a historic opioid settlement is going towards the development of new programs to combat the growing opioid epidemic plaguing North Carolina. 

In 2021, Attorney General Josh Stein announced a $26 billion agreement that would bring resources to communities harmed by the opioid epidemic. 

According to the Watauga Democrat, the agreement resolved litigation over the role of four companies, Cardinal, McKesson, Amerisource Bergen and Johnson & Johnson, in creating and fueling the public health crisis.

The Watauga Democrat reports that the Watauga County will receive $5,465,816 over 18 years due to the settlement. County leaders have designated key organizations, projects, and health providers that will receive funding from the settlement. 

Some funded projects include, increasing access to medication-assisted treatment at hospitals, establishing a Recovery Housing Facility, and creating mobile service units that the health department plans to launch in 2024. 

“The group collectively determined that people who live, work or play in Watauga County should have a safe, happy and self-directed life,” Melissa Bracey, Director of Communications and Compliance at AppHealthCare, told the Watauga Democrat. “With this result in mind, the group was able to review data, piece together a shared understanding of the state of opioid use in our county, discuss what is already being done about it and determine where we need to focus our efforts over the next four years.”

The funding from this settlement comes from a wave of proposed and finalized settlements over opioids in recent years totaling more than $50 billion. Attorney General Josh Stein has led bipartisan negotiations to hold opioid manufacturers accountable – leading to over $54 million in settlements that are making its way to communities across the state. 

“When drug companies manipulate the market to make more money, they put people’s lives on the line,” stated Attorney General Josh Stein in a press release back in June. “It’s wrong and against the law. That’s why my fellow state attorneys general and I have taken action. This agreement will help ensure that people who need life-saving medication to address their substance use disorder can get it.”


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