PHOENIX — Editor's note: The video above is from a newscast in November 2020.
Maricopa County has become the first local government in Arizona to sign onto a massive settlement agreement with pharmaceutical companies over the nation’s opioid epidemic.
The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the settlement, which is expected to bring the county about $80 million of Arizona’s anticipated allocation, which could reach $550 million or more.
In Arizona, the state, all 15 counties and nearly 100 cities and towns can sign on to the $26 billion settlement between pharmaceutical companies and government entities around the country. The money must be used to address costs associated with the opioid epidemic.
Since 2017, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported, nearly 11,000 Arizonans have died of an opioid overdose, the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old.
“The impact of this epidemic staggering. It is cruel and it is deadly, and it doesn’t care about your race or gender or socioeconomic standing,” Maricopa County Attorney Allister Ade said in a statement. “And while throwing money at an issue does not solve it, it will get us closer to healing this community, which has been ravaged by this epidemic. It will also hold accountable those who distributed this very dangerous narcotic to our loved ones and provide resources for a full spectrum of services to our community.”
Between 2002 and 2016, fatal overdoses from heroin increased by over 500% as a result of this epidemic, according to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. Prescriptions have also tripled from 1991 to 2011, increasing sales ten times what they were in the early 90s.
"This money will be used to treat, prevent, and help people recover from opioid use disorder and support both government and non-profit organizations working to address this issue,” Adel said.
For more information about the National Opioid Settlement, visit https://nationalopioidsettlement.com.
To watch the news conference about the announcement, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWb0xccic2E
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