County Officials Talk Opioid Settlement | News, Sports, Jobs

The final status of a $26 billion opioid settlement with several of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies is still pending.

But county officials signed a deal that could net Warren County about $970,000 for drug treatment and education efforts.

Attorney Nathaniel Schmidt told the Corrections Commission on Tuesday that an attempt by Philadelphia and Allegheny district attorneys to halt the bankruptcy proceeding that is part of the settlement process was denied by state court but could be appealed.

He said all 67 counties signed the settlement and noted that it is expected that the “The bankruptcy settlement will be approved.”

Exactly when this might happen is still unclear.

Schmidt said he wouldn’t expect a final resolution in the next six months.

Commissioner Jeff Eggleston raised the issue at Tuesday’s meeting, calling on the county to put a plan in place for when funds will be available if the settlement is reached. He called it a “the opportunity to really think about how to rebuild the system” to the prison to provide more benefits to inmates, such as specific spaces for therapy.

“It becomes clear that prison is the tip of the spear” to treat certain serious mental health problems “and where it really culminates,” he said.

Eggleston said “from my point of view, everything indicates that we must move forward” and stressed the importance of having a plan in place when funding runs out.

The discussion is expected to continue at a social services meeting in April.

Seven companies are involved in settlement discussions, highlighted by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson.

A proposed order in the case says more than $1 billion will come to Pennsylvania over a period of up to 18 years. Funding would initially go to the Pennsylvania Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust.

Funding will be awarded annually and is expected to be spent equitably across the county in a way that most effectively reduces the effects of opioid abuse and addiction as judged by county commissioners, the county executive and county council.

An attachment to the order said the county shares were developed based on a formula with four metrics: overdose deaths, related hospitalizations, naloxone administration, and so-called adjusted. “morphine milligram equivalents.”

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