On February 16, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced at a press conference that nearly $1.2 billion of a $26 billion nationwide global-distributor opioid agreement was secured for the state. The funds will be used to fight the ongoing opioid crisis.
The agreement will essentially track the terms of the Global Prescription Opioid Litigation Settlement that fifty-two states signed onto in July 2021.
Funding will come from Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors.
“We have fought this crisis for over seven years, and today we are bringing needed relief to the state of Texas,” said Paxton.
The money will support strategies and programs created to combat the widespread opioid crisis and addiction.
Paxton’s office has secured over $1.8 billion to date by suing the makers and distributors of opioids for their role in creating the epidemic in the United States.
He challenges the companies responsible to change their business practices so that more lives are not claimed by opioid addiction.
The attorney general said that, in 2021, the opioid crisis was the worst ever, with deaths caused by overdoses rising 330% nationwide.
“We’ve lost more than a million Americans to this epidemic, and sadly, it’s at an all-time high as overdose deaths continue to rise in the face of the pandemic,” Paxton said. “And it’s resulting stress, anxiety, and dislocation.”
Chief Executive Officer Tammy Mahan at Lifepath Systems, the designated behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disabilities authority for Collin County, spoke about what the extra funding could mean for county residents:
“These funds will have a significant impact on the people we serve,” she said. “Lifepath serves the entire county. We provide substance abuse services for those that don’t have the resources themselves. To provide those services, we have to stretch funding significantly so that we can cover as many people as possible.”
More expensive and better treatments such as Vivitrol will be available to those seeking help. The monthly injection costs around $1,400 each time to prevent an addict from relapsing.
Dr. Carrie De Moor, who serves on the Texas Opioid Abatement Counsel, will be tasked with ensuring communities receive their funds.
“In the emergency department, we see the worst-case scenarios when it comes to the impact of the opioid epidemic,” De Moor said. “There are no boundaries to the opioid addiction. It impacts the people that you’re on the sideline with at soccer games, the people you go to church with, and we’re telling an alarming amount of parents and children that their mother [or child] is not going to wake up again.”
De Moor added that the funds will help educate communities, work to prevent addictions, and assist those already addicted by giving them medical therapy to hopefully wean them from the drug safely.