By JOSH FRIEDMAN
The city of Paso Robles could receive more than $680,000 from a settlement to be paid by drug distributors and manufacturers over their role in the United States’s opioid epidemic. [KSBY]
Earlier this year, drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, along with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, agreed to a combined $26 billion settlement. California is slated to receive nearly $2 billion of the settlement funds.
Paso Robles has ongoing claims against drug distributors and manufacturers, and it can opt into the settlement agreement. If Paso Robles opts in, the city could receive more than $37,000 a year over 18 years, totaling more than $680,000. The funds would need to be used for drug addiction treatment and preventative measures.
If the city turns down the funds, the money would go to the state of California and/or San Luis Obispo County. Paso Robles has until Jan. 2, 2022 to opt into the settlement.
Frank Warren, the division manager for prevention and outreach within the SLO County Behavioral Health Department, said opioid related deaths in the county have increased by more than 60 percent since 2016. More than 80 percent of those deaths were connected to multiple drugs. Particularly, there has been an increase in fentanyl related deaths, Warren said.
Previously Warren said, if granted funding from the settlement, local officials would direct money toward programs for administering Naloxone, a medication that reverses overdoses.