a package of NARCAN (Naloxone) nasal spray sits on the counter at a Walgreens pharmacy, Aug. 9, 2017 in New York City. Starting on Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that no-cost or low cost Naloxone (NARCAN), a drug that can help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, will be available at all pharmacies across New York state. (Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Tennessee’s counties received $31.4 million from the state’s opioid abatement council in the first round of payments set to occur yearly over the next two decades.
The money comes as Tennessee ranked No. 2 in drug overdose deaths in 2021 based on population, with an estimated 3,813 people dying, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Lawmakers set up an abatement council to distribute what could be nearly $1 billion in settlement funds from opioid manufacturers and distributors to address Tennessee’s overdose crisis in part caused by them.
The state’s first round of money comes from a $600 million pot paid over 18 years by AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, McKesson and Johnson & Johnson. Tennessee could also have access to another $490 million if proposed settlements with Allergan, CVS, Teva, Walgreens, and Walmart go through.
State law requires that 35% of the settlement fund are directly given to counties, with the other 65% set aside for grant programs.
As part of the county funds, the state set up a distribution formula for giving the money out based on the impact of the opioid crisis in each community.
Across the United States, drug manufacturers and distributors have agreed to nearly $50 billion in settlement payments related to their role in causing the opioid crisis.
KFF News, a nonprofit health news publication, created a database to track the professionals deciding how the money would be spent.
The council’s makeup could play a critical role in whether money is spent on prevention and harm-reducing programs versus policing activities.
KFF found that Tennessee’s council has a higher percentage of law enforcement and criminal justice officials on the council than in other states.
But, some restrictions are already in place for how counties can spend their settlement money. They have a list of 12 programs they can choose from.
The abatement council — created in 2021 — is a 13-member body with appointments by the governor, Senate speaker, House Speaker, the Tennessee County Services Associations and the state municipal league.
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