PBS NewsHour Highlights Attorney General Josh Stein’s Work To Tackle Opioid Crisis, Invest In Recovery & Treatment Resources
Josh Stein led bipartisan efforts to hold big drug companies accountable that “netted roughly $54 billion” nationwide
In response to the devastating opioid epidemic, which claimed the lives of over 4,000 North Carolinians in 2021 alone, Attorney General Josh Stein led bipartisan negotiations to hold opioid manufacturers accountable. Now, PBS NewsHour is reporting on how the historic $54 billion in settlements are beginning to make their way into communities across the country to support local recovery efforts, and what North Carolina is doing with its share of roughly $1.5 billion.
Chrystal Weatherly, a Montgomery County peer support specialist, is now able to use the settlement funds to distribute Narcan to county residents: “People need support. And people need to know that the stigma that is typically attached to substance use is not viewed that way by everybody.” According to PBS, Montgomery County’s overdose death rate is nearly double that of North Carolina statewide rate.
The report underscores Attorney General Stein’s commitment to requiring the $54 billion to be used “to help people who are struggling with opioid addiction,” and his dedication to ensure that there are “many, many more people who are alive, healthy and happy because of these funds.”
Excerpts from PBS NewsHour: As opioid settlement money starts to flow in, states debate how best to use it
- The settlement money from several companies that made, distributed and sold opioid painkillers is starting to flow in.
- More than $50 billion will be paid out over the next 18 years to state and local governments across the country. But the debate around exactly how this money should be spent is just beginning.
- In the first of two reports, special correspondent Cat Wise and producer Mike Fritz traveled to North Carolina, where overdose deaths have spiked by more than 70 percent since 2019.
- Josh Stein (D), North Carolina Attorney General: “The opioid crisis has been absolutely devastating. It is the deadliest drug epidemic in American history. And, tragically, we’re at the deadliest moment.”
- Cat Wise: North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein led negotiations for national settlements against companies that included Johnson & Johnson, CVS, Walgreens and several others. In all, these settlements have netted roughly $54 billion. Is it enough money to actually make an impact?
- Josh Stein: It is absolutely enough money to make an impact. It’s not enough money to end addiction. But what I am 100 percent certain of is that there will be many, many more people who are alive, healthy and happy because of these funds and the important programs they’re going to fund than otherwise would be.
- Cat Wise: Stein says the goal of most of these settlements was to give states flexibility in determining how best to spend their money, but to also require them to use at least 85 percent of that funding on addiction treatment and prevention. Those requirements were put in place because of what happened during the 1990s after states won more than $240 billion from cigarette companies.
- Josh Stein: We all watched what happened with the tobacco settlement. Here in North Carolina, that money just goes straight into the general fund and is used for whatever. It’s not helping people who are struggling with nicotine addiction. What we want is for this money to go to help people who are struggling with opioid addiction. So, the money is required to go to that purpose.