June 18, 2021
The state Senate unanimously passed legislation on Wednesday that would formalize an accountable, independent and collaborative process for allocating the large funds the state has received and will continue to receive from opioid colonies.
Senate Bill 166, sponsored by Senator Stephanie Hansen and Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, and supported by Attorney General Kathy Jennings, would establish a prescription opioid settlement fund and a distribution commission for the settlement of prescription opioids to receive the opioid settlement money and to ensure that the settlement dollars are spent on repairing the damage caused by the opioid crisis.
“Delawaren across the state have paid the price for profit hunting and corporate deception,” said Attorney General Jennings. “After years of struggle in our communities, angst in our families and battles in the courts, we are finally seeing the first signs of responsibility for the role of the pharmaceutical industry in the crisis. The question before us is not whether Big Pharma will pay its debts to our communities, but how we will administer the important settlements that Delaware has received and will continue to receive. This legislation answers that question by putting in place the safeguards that Delawares need and deserve and by ensuring that these funds go exactly where they are intended: in the fight against drug addiction.
“Whether it’s through our nationwide first-time opioid impact charges or historic lawsuits against some of the nation’s largest drugmakers, Delaware holds drug companies accountable for flooding our streets. of their highly addictive products and of misleading the public about the dangers, ”said Senator Stéphanie Hansen, the main sponsor of SB 166. “As we direct the record profits reaped by these companies to our communities to help individuals and families so terribly affected by addiction, our goal is to help fill the gaps in the health care network. Delaware’s existing recovery and respond quickly to future processing needs. This is the intent of this legislation and I want to thank Attorney General Kathy Jennings for her dedication to winning the fight against drug addiction in First State. “
“There is sometimes a temptation when the state receives funds to reallocate them to other uses. But the opioid epidemic has ravaged almost every corner of our state, so the funds we receive should be allocated specifically to address the problems it has created, ”said Representative Pete Schwartzkopf. “By establishing an independent commission to disburse the funds, we will ensure that the money Delaware raises through impact fees or opioid regulations goes directly to programs that will help residents recover and recover. take care of themselves. “
In February, Attorney General Jennings secured Delaware’s first major opioid crisis settlement, worth $ 573 million multi-state settlement [attorneygeneral.delaware.gov] with McKinsey & Company. The first state also sued several pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and drugstores, including Purdue, Endo and Walgreens, for their role in the opioid epidemic.
Under SB 166, money from settlements with these and other defendants would be placed in a fund that could only be used to repair past damage from opioids, reduce present and future damage from opioids, and must comply with the terms of individual regulations. Money from the Settlement Fund could not be diverted for other purposes, mixed with other funds, or used to displace existing state or local government spending. An annual report is required to detail the amounts received and the amounts dispersed from the Settlement Fund.
SB 166 also establishes the Prescription Opioid Settlement Distribution Commission within the Behavioral Health Consortium [ltgov.delaware.gov] to manage the administration of the Settlement Fund, as well as the money in the Opioid Impact Fund [legis.delaware.gov] established by the 150e General assembly. The Commission would be co-chaired by the Attorney General and the Governor, or their representatives, and would be composed of 13 additional members or their representatives:
- Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services
- Two senators, one from each caucus, appointed by the president pro tempore
- Two representatives, one from each caucus, appointed by the Speaker of the House
- A member of the public appointed by the governor
- A member of the public appointed by the Attorney General
- Three members representing each county government in Delaware
- A representative of the municipal government, appointed by the governor and chosen from a list of 3 names provided by the Delaware League of Local Governments
- A representative of a substance use disorder advocacy group appointed by the Attorney General
- A representative of the detoxification system, appointed by the Governor
“Every Delawarean we lose to an overdose is more than a number. These are the hopes, dreams and the promise of a vanished future. Each of these deaths tears families apart and fills them with a sense of loss and hopelessness, and creates a permanent void that will never be filled, ”said Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “Delaware has been a leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic and substance use disorders. From the creation of our Behavioral Health Consortium as a model for the nation, to the overdose management system and the opioid impact fee legislation, we have been able to approach this from the point of view. seen by all. This bill will strengthen those efforts in a significant way that will direct resources directly to where they are needed. As Chair of the Behavioral Health Consortium, I salute this commission as it joins our efforts to help Delawarens get the help they need, and we continue to work towards a behavioral health system that works for everybody.
“Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against the opioid epidemic. But addiction prevention, treatment and recovery programs can work and save lives, ”said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. “Under the leadership of Attorney General Jennings, SB 166 will bring together local and state governments, health experts and the addiction community to fund effective programs for those suffering from the disease of addiction and to provide support for those who need it most. ”
“AtTack addiction is grateful to the Department of Justice, staff and members of the General Assembly who have introduced legislation establishing the Prescription Opioid Settlement Distribution Commission,” said Dave Humes from addiction to attacks. “This enabling legislation will combine funds from existing opioid impact fee law with funds that will enter the state as a result of opioid lawsuits as they are resolved. Having a separate source of funding has always been important to deal with the 21st century public health crisis, opioid addiction and overdose deaths. The legislation will ensure streamlined and transparent management of these funds and will also remove the Sunset provision from the Delaware Code. The bottom line is that it will bring help and hope to people who have been “addicted to drugs”.
SB 166 is now moving to the House of Representatives, where it will be assigned to a legislative committee for consideration.