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Gov. David Ige, mayors detail plans for $78M drug company opioid settlement

Opioid Crisis Settlement drug addiction
Matt Rourke/AP
Shown are used syringes collected at a needle exchange run by Camden Area Health Education Center in Camden, N.J., Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Four companies involved in the opioid industry finalized settlements over the addiction crisis in the U.S. in deals that total $26 billion over 18 years. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Gov. David Ige on Tuesday outlined plans for how the state will spend $78 million it's receiving from a multistate settlement reached with pharmaceutical industry companies over their role in the opioid addiction crisis.

Ige said drug overdose deaths have exceeded traffic fatalities in Hawaiʻi this year. Drug overdoses, including those from prescription opioids, account for 24% of all fatal injuries in Hawaiʻi, he said.

The state and the four counties have agreed to spend the funds on treatment, prevention and education, with 85% directed at opioids and the remaining 15% for other substances.

An advisory committee comprised of equal numbers of county and state representatives will consult on how 85% of the money is spent statewide. The other 15% will be spent at the county level in a manner determined by the county.

gov david ige opioid settlement news conference aug 9 2022
Office of Gov. David Ige
Gov. David Ige announces plans for the $78 million that Hawaiʻi will receive in opioid settlement funds.

Officials will first conduct a statewide assessment of needs, the governor said. Ige told reporters at a news conference that he didn’t know when the money would be ready to be spent.

The mayors of Maui and Honolulu said they thought it would be important to fund treatment centers and education programs.

“I know firsthand how real this is, how many people have been really hurt by this, how many families have been destroyed,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said at the news conference. "This is something that spans all generations."

Both mayors said they would work with their county councils to determine how the money should be spent.

“It’s a community effort, not just the mayor or the governor. The monies must be spent and must be spent in a wise and efficient manner,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino.

The money comes from a $26 billion settlement with three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – and Johnson & Johnson that was announced in February.

Each state's share is determined by a formula taking into account its population and the local effect of the opioid crisis.

Of Hawaiʻi's money, $63 million will be paid out over 18 years from the three major distributors and $15 million over nine years by Johnson & Johnson.

Ige said he expected Hawaiʻi would receive millions more from settlements with other drug makers.

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