Who will benefit from drug settlement money? - Always Free WV

Who'll benefit from drug settlement money?

There is likely a boatload of money coming to states affected by Big Pharma’s malfeasance in fueling the opioid addiction crisis. What is not so clear is whether that money will get in the right hands: communities and individuals who need it the most to recover from ongoing terrible damage of this crisis.

AlwaysFreeWV has followed the addiction crisis closely. We pass along news of an Aug. 22, 2019 Associated Press story, which describes a potential new development.

West Virginia University President Gordon Gee and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich are launching a nonprofit to steer cash from any national opioid settlement to hospitals, rather than to local and state governments already sparring for control of the dollars.

According to the story:

The duo’s plan is the latest move in a tug-of-war over what to do with the potential billions that could flow from a national opioid settlement with drugmakers and distributors, if one is reached. Some individual settlements with counties and states have already been reached and larger pharmaceutical companies could yet cut deals as the clock ticks toward the first trial, which is set for October.

At this point, we don’t know for certain who should handle any flood of money. But any settlement money should go directly to affected communities and individuals striving to recover from opioid abuse.

Another recent story spoke of the challenge of ensuring this happens:

“Unfortunately,” Tobacco-Free Kids’ Myers said, “no strong citizen group is serving as a watchdog to ensure the settlement money isn’t used to fill potholes, lower taxes, build golf courses — you name it.

“If that money goes into the general coffers, Politics 101 guarantees that at some point — probably quickly — that money will be diverted,” Myers said. “Sadly, if the money doesn’t get used to address the problem, it lets the wrongdoers off the hook. People will keep using these pills and keep getting addicted, and it will be business as usual for the drug companies.”

Any settlement money should benefit communities hit hardest by the addiction crisis and not sit in state coffers as easy prey for untrustworthy legislators.

READ ON: Gee, Kasich to Push Opioid Settlement Toward Hospitals
READ ON: Opioid Settlements Spark Debate on How to Spend the Money

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