Following months of discussions, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office announced recently how the “first-of-its-kind” framework for distributing over $400 million Colorado will receive from the settlements from major companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma. But it’s not just towns and counties suing the opioid companies who stand to gain from the settlements, according to the office.
Notably, even towns, counties, municipalities, cities and municipal corporations who’ve yet to file any lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors or others can still agree to the framework and receive monies, according to a release from the AG’s office.
“The framework — and the collaborative problem-solving spirit we are calling for — promises a new way forward,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said. He added that the ongoing opioid epidemic is 25 years in the making.
Colorado could receive over $400 million from the settlements announced up to Aug. 26, including over $300 million from Johnson & Johnson and the drug distributors, and another $10 million from McKinsey & Company. The state itself will also receive $75 million from Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family, and a further $25 million from Mallickrodt when the companies exit bankruptcy. Colorado will receive maximum payments if a “critical mass of local governments supports the join framework settlement” by Jan. 2, 2022, according to the release.
The framework’s three core principles are to: maximize settlement funds for Colorado communities; utilization of existing infrastructure and ensuring that regions hardest hit by the opioid crisis get adequate funding, according to the release.
Oversight of the framework will be under a 13-member General Abatement Fund Council. While the announcement doesn’t describe who is involved with the council, regions involved with the framework must provide annual financial reports to the Colorado Department of Law, and to all state, regional and local funds be tracked and made available via a public website.
Under the framework, the state is divvied up into 19 regions with 60% of opioid settlement proceeds allocated to these regions. Each region will have their own governing boards consisting of public government officials from the region and will conduct their own needs assessments and develop community-specific plans for spending the funds received for opioid abatement programs, the release explains.
“All participants in the framework must use the funds they receive for opioid abatement purposes such as drug treatment, recovery, prevention and education, and appropriate harm reduction programs, as well as addressing the epidemic’s impact on the criminal justice system,” the release states.
Local governments will receive 20% of the opioid settlement proceeds and can opt to allocate their funds to the county/region they’re associated with under the framework, according to the release. And 10% will go to an infrastructure fund for capacity building in the hard-hit regions lacking adequate facilities for treatment and recovery services.
The attorney general’s office will manage 10% of overall proceeds in a fund to address issues of concern across Colorado relating to the crisis, like addiction workforce development and prevention and education programming.
The framework was developed working with city and county attorneys and leaders from the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Counties, Inc. Commissioners from Adams, Prowers and Logan counties expressed their support, appreciation and hopes for the settlements, as well as Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.
In a statement, Weiser said that the framework is a “shared commitment across Colorado for investing the opioid settlement funds our state will receive to rebuild lives and communities.”
More information on the office and DOL’s work on the opioid epidemic is available at www.coag.gov/opioids.