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Opioid commission created to oversee use of settlement funds

Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

Gov. John Carney signed a bill this week directing funds toward addressing the state’s opioid crisis.


The bill wraps up years of work by the Attorney General’s office, state lawmakers and the Behavioural Health Consortium to see that money received from the Prescription Opioid Settlements is used to directly support impacted communities.


Attorney General Kathy Jennings says it’s important that money the state receives from pharmaceutical company settlements goes to help those affected.


“Two million pills went into Selbyville alone — which at that time had a population of 2,000. All the while big pharma made money hand over fist. Let’s make no mistake about it, this was profits over lives.”


Jenning’s predecessor, Matt Denn, was one of the first state attorneys general to file suit against opioid manufacturers in 2018, which started a litany of over 2,000 lawsuits — and a final settlement of $26 billion.


Delaware stand’s to receive over $100 million from the settlement, paid out over the next 17 years.


Gov. John Carney signed Senate Bill 166 creating the Prescription Opioid Distribution Commission to oversee the funds, and ensure they go towards reducing the harm caused by the opioid crisis.


State Sen. Stephanie Hansen (D-Middletown) helped craft the bill.


“It’s just unrealistic to expect someone who is often jobless now, homeless and just coming out of treatment to be able to pay $125 a week for housing to be able to stay in recovery without the ability to get to outpatient treatment or a job because they have no transportation.”


Hansen says what’s needed to help support those in recovery has been known for a while, but the state lacked the funding to do so. This money will supercharge that effort.


Her goals are to create 24/7 bridge clinics statewide to offer low barrier access to recovery support and referrals to better treatment options. Hansen says the state also needs to create more in-state treatment facilities.


The new opioid commission will be required to release an annual report outlining the use of settlement funds, and will operate under the Behavioral Health Consortium.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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