State dashboard shows how opioid settlement funds are being used
Hundreds of millions of dollars are coming to Minnesota in the years ahead as a result of the state’s settlements with opioid manufacturers and distributors. The Department of Human Services has published the first year of expenditures on a new dashboard.
The Opioid Epidemic Response Spending page allows the public to see which municipalities and organizations are receiving funding and its intended use.
According to the dashboard, 10 counties and cities received settlement funding in 2022 and spent more than $515,000 on programs, staffing and administrative needs to address the opioid epidemic.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office announced settlement agreements with pharmaceutical distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health, and Amerisource Bergen, as well as opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson in 2021. An additional five settlements were announced in 2022 with opioid manufacturers Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan, and pharmacy chains Walmart, CVS and Walgreens.
The settlements are expected to bring more than $540 million into Minnesota over the next 18 years, according to DHS.
“It’s extremely important,” said Alicia House, the executive director of Steve Rummler Hope Network. “In order for us to do the work to change this crisis and save lives, you need funding.”
The non-profit distributes as many as 50,000 of both naloxone and fentanyl test strip kits each year. It also provides education to prevent overdoses.
“A lot of the work we’re doing is to build awareness of the crisis,” said House.
She is on the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council, which helps distribute some of the settlement funding as well as the fees collected from prescribers, manufacturers and distributors collected under a 2019 law. The dashboard details awards by the Council in addition to other settlement funds.
“There’s going to be a lot of questions: ‘This is a lot of money, we hear about these settlements, we hear about the amounts, where’s it going?’” said House. “I think transparency is important and this dashboard can help provide that to the general public.”
It also helps recipients of the funding understand who else is doing similar work.
“I think that helps us have a better understanding of how we can work as a larger collective,” said Caroline Hood, the CEO and president of RS Eden, which provides treatment services to those struggling with substance use disorder.
According to the dashboard, RS Eden is receiving more than $1 million to add a clinically and medically monitored withdrawal program.
“Many of the folks coming to our doors to receive substance use disorder treatment, we were actually being forced to turn away because their medical complexity was higher than what our level of residential care by regulatory statute was allowed to provide,” said Hood. “Now we’ll be able to admit instead of having to turn away.”
RS Eden learned on Friday that DHS approved its license to provide higher care. Hood told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they’re working to hire and hope to admit their first participants in mid-September.
“Because of the ease of access of opioids, the deadliness of fentanyl, we have to be solving this problem with different tools,” she said.