South Carolina has issued a report on how it will spend the hundreds of millions of dollars it receives from the nationwide opioid settlement.
The state would receive more than $360 million from the $26 billion nationwide settlement. Manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, along with three pharmaceutical drug distributors Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, will pay the money to the state over the next 18 years.
As per the deal, South Carolina's 92% share of the settlement would be used to tackle the opioid epidemic in the state. Even the Director of the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services said that considering the drug crisis, it is necessary to use the funds wisely by not wasting them on unnecessary things.
South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) and the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health, along with assistance from the Department of Health and Environmental Control, have written a 40-page guide that outlines the list of approved uses of the funds.
The funds would be used to buy approved drugs such as Naloxone and others that would reverse opioid overdoses. It would also be used to implement recovery programmes to prevent the future opioid crisis. Apart from it, the fund would also assist to collect data, execute research and analyze the consequences of opioid use to help the authorities to execute significant strategies to deal with the epidemic.
However, counties, municipalities, hospitals, NGOs, and other organizations are free to choose how they think their funds should be used.
As per the agreement, about two-thirds of the fund's share is reserved for the local governments. South Carolina's Attorney General said that considering the opioid harm metric, a guaranteed amount would be allotted to all 46 counties and more than 40 cities and towns. Larger cities and counties will get larger sums of money compared to the smaller cities.
Hospitals, non-profit organizations and other groups requesting funding would get more than 100 million of the remaining amount to combat the crisis. The approval of the funds' distribution would be done by a new, nine-member board that would include representatives from different regions of the state.
Nearly 4,000 South Carolinians have died from opioid overdoses in the past three years. This number is because of the legal opioids, and the number can go much higher, citing the smuggling of illegal opioids such as fentanyl.
DHEC will offer fentanyl test strips for free to the public through health departments to prevent addiction among the people. People would also receive training on the usage of Narcan, a drug that reverses the effect of overdose.
The national settlement of $26 billion is just one component of the agreement. The drug distributors are even mandated to report suspected opioid orders, and the drug manufacturer J&J is ordered to stop its sale.