Illinois receiving roughly $760 million from national opioid settlement

Opioids Crisis
Opioids Crisis(WABI)
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 4:48 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Illinois will receive about $760 million over the next 18 years through a $26 billion national opioid settlement agreement. The money will come from the country’s three major pharmaceutical distributors - Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen - and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

The settlement follows three years of negotiations to resolve more than 4,000 claims of state and local governments across the country. 400,000 Illinoisans misuse prescription opiates and 74,000 have an opioid use disorder, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Gov. JB Pritzker signed an executive order Friday to establish an Opioid Settlement Administration Office within the Illinois Department of Human Services. That office will be responsible for the opioid remediation funds to help with equitable recovery and treatment programs across the state.

“No matter what brings someone to that place, their life is worth saving,” Pritzker said. “If that is you or someone that you love, know that the state of Illinois is fighting for you and we won’t stop until you have the support that you need.”

Pritzker said his administration will leave no stone unturned as they work to bring the opioid epidemic to an end.

94 of the state’s 102 counties signed onto the national settlement and 104 of the 113 Illinois local governments are eligible to receive a direct distribution.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul said his office wanted an opioid allocation agreement to ensure the state’s share is allocated equitably to counties and municipalities. Most of the money will go directly to the Illinois Remediation Fund.

“Accountability for entities that cause this epidemic must include resources for communities to help abate the crisis,” Raoul said. “And it must be equitable because equity has to be at the heart of allocating these resources.”

There are plans underway for an advisory board to work as a subcommittee for the Illinois Opioid Overdose Prevention and Recovery Steering Committee. Members of the advisory board will make recommendations to prioritize the distribution of settlement funds. Population, opioid usage rates, overdose deaths and the amount of opioids shipped into a region will be important factors the board will consider.

Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton co-chairs the Illinois Opioid Overdose Prevention and Recovery Steering Committee with DHS Secretary Grace Hou and IDPH Acting Director Amaal Tokars. Stratton said every city, town and village has someone hurting right now because of the opioid crisis. She stressed that every voice impacted by the injustice and devastation caused by the epidemic deserves to be heard.

“Opioid drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death nationwide for people under the age of 50,” Stratton said. “This crisis has reached into urban, suburban and rural areas - every kind of community. It’s also true that opioids have disproportionately hurt BIPOC communities.”

Stratton explained the opioid fatality rate for Black communities in Illinois was 55.3 per 100,000 people. She noted that is the highest opioid fatality rate of all demographics. Stratton said Illinois will heal and join forces to work with impacted communities to make needed changes.

The $26 billion settlement is the second largest multistate agreement in United States history. Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) said the settlement agreement will help offset the estimated $41 billion economic and social cost of opioid use disorder and overdose in Illinois. Ford said responding to the crisis requires access to the availability and affordability of high-quality, evidence-based acute treatment services and support teams.

“The old days of just telling people to just say no can be no more,” Ford said. “We have to meet people where they are. We have to provide them with high-quality care, make sure that they have housing, and make sure that they have treatment for their opioid use disorder.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Illinois helpline for opioids and other substances at 1-833-2FINDHELP.

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