SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah and Salt Lake County are on track to receive more than a quarter-billion dollars to help combat the opioid epidemic.
Utah will be receiving $266 million from a lawsuit filed by local counties against pharmaceutical companies. It’s a partial settlement with one drug manufacturer and a few distributors. Half the money will go directly to the state.
Officials say it’s just a start of what they believe will be additional, successful settlements with pharmaceutical companies, to combat the devastation caused by the overprescription of synthetic opioids.
“The remaining $133 million will be split between the 27 settling counties," said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. "And the Salt Lake County share of that is roughly about $57 million which we’ll be able to reinvest back into our county for drug treatment and the collateral impacts of this that we are suffering from.”
The money will be spent over the next 18 years to start new treatment facilities, hire therapists, promote drug education and deal with the related impacts on the criminal justice system.
It's an issue that has been overshadowed, to a certain degree, by two years of the COVID-19 pandemic but roughly 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year.