Opioid epidemic funding of $3.4 million coming to Dare County

Published 6:54 am Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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Over the next 18 years, Dare County will receive a total of $3,433,424 of opioid settlement funding.

On Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, Dare County Health and Human Services director Sheila Davies addressed the county’s Board of Commissioners about programming that will use that funding.

In July 2021, a $26 billion nationwide agreement was reached with four opioid distributors and manufacturer: McKesson, Cardinal Health, Amerisource Bergen and Johnson and Johnson.

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The settlement resolved litigation over the role played by the four corporations in the opioid epidemic. It also requires industry changes.

Of that total, North Carolina receives $750 million. Over 18 years, direct payments go to all 100 counties and 17 municipalities that signed onto the litigation.

The memorandum of agreement signed by Dare County and all the others requires that the funding be used for treatment, recovery support and harm reduction.

In Dare County, seven programs are slated for fiscal year 2023.

Funding is already committed to two new positions: an overdose coordinator at $70,000 and a probation officer for Recovery Court at $100,000. Recovery Court is a “really successful program,” said Davies, but follow up is fragmented now.

Naloxone for community distribution to law enforcement officers, community care clinic, civic organizations, etc., is slated. This continues an expiring grant program. Committed to this is $30,000.

Fentanyl testing strips for community distribution is allocated $12,000. The strips can test if drugs are laced with fentanyl.

“Fentanyl kills” mass public awareness campaign will cost $40,000. “There’s not a magic solution,” said Davies.

A frustrated and angry commissioner Rob Ross asked “what is the source of this poison?”

A recent report from the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking said that from 2014 to 2019 most pure fentanyl seized was from China. However, since 2019 the dominant source is Mexico.

Commissioner Wally Overman affirmed Ross’ use of the word poison to describe fentanyl.

Said Overman, “fentanyl is a poison. It’s basically murder.”

A program called Community Initiatives is designed to contract services and provide mini-grants through the Saving Lives Task Force. That initiative is allocated $125,000.

The last program is called “Linkage to Care/Social Determinants of Health.” The $25,000 allocated will be used to continue helping people get into treatment and therapy sessions and provide transportation. The program continues a grant that expires in January 2023.

Negotiations continue with two more pharmaceutical companies, Allergan and Teva. North Carolina is one of a dozen states holding the two corporations accountable for roles in the epidemic. Teva would be required to pay up to $4.25 billion and Allergan $2.37 billion.