Sep 14, 2022 - News

Opioid settlement money flows to Pennsylvania

Overdose deaths in Philadelphia 
Data: Open Data PA; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios

The first portion of the more than $1 billion Pennsylvania is slated to receive from a major opioid settlement is flowing to counties across the state, including Philadelphia.

What's happening: Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro met with Delaware and Dauphin county leaders this week to discuss how local governments will use their first allocations from the multi-state, $26 billion settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three other drug companies.

  • "The money is here and now they can go invest it … in order to save lives," Shapiro said at a press conference yesterday.
  • A second payment will be disbursed before the end of the year, according to the AG.

Why it matters: More than 5,220 Pennsylvanians died of a drug overdose in 2021 — the highest number recorded since 2017.

Zoom in: Philly accounted for nearly 24% of those deaths. State estimates show overdoses reached 1,240 here last year, a record.

  • The city is getting the largest settlement payout of the state’s 67 counties: $186 million over the next 18 years. 

What's ahead: Philadelphia officials haven't yet laid out how they’ll spend the settlement money. But the city’s Opioid Response Unit released an action plan two weeks ago outlining its strategies for the remainder of the year. Those include:

  • Expanding education and prevention services at district and charter schools, such as training on how to spot an overdose and how to use Naloxone, the overdose reversal drug.
  • Developing a mobile methadone program, which has been used in several states to reach patients who can't travel for treatment.
  • Starting a 100-day challenge in Kensington to connect unhoused people who are using opioids with shelter and treatment.

Read the plan

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