Opioid Settlement Agreements
National Distributor and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson Settlement
In January 2022, Georgia opted into opioid litigation brought by states and local subdivisions against the three largest pharmaceutical distributors - McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen - and manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its parent company Johnson & Johnson. Georgia will receive a combined $636 million from these settlements, known as the National Distributor Settlement and Janssen/J&J Settlement, respectively. The National Distributor Settlement funds will be disbursed on an 18-year plan, while the Janssen/J&J Settlement funds will be disbursed on a 9-year plan. A Governor-appointed Trustee will make disbursements of State Opioid Funds after consultation with the Government Participation Mechanism, an advisory body.
Information on the National Distributor and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson Settlement
In February 2021, Georgia joined in on a settlement with McKinsey & Company, which resulted in an award of $13 million to the state. Governor Brian P. Kemp allocated these funds to the Department of Law, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, and the Department of Public Health to combat opioid misuse in the state. The funds will be utilized to expand Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) availability, increase detoxification service capacity, promote stigma reduction, increase access to naloxone for emergency service providers, and expand training on naloxone to community providers.
Breakdown of Recommendations:
Expand investment into MAT providers
MAT is the use of FDA-approved medications, in combination with counseling, behavioral therapies, and social support to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance use and opioid use disorders. Benefits of MAT include reducing illicit drug use, disease rates, and overdose events in patients. Further, across the criminal justice system, MAT has been found to reduce criminal activity and arrests, as well as probation revocation and reincarceration. Through the investment of State Targeted Response (STR) and State Opioid Response (SOR) grant funds from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), DBHDD has expanded MAT programs across the state. While DBHDD currently contracts with 24 MAT providers, gaps in access to services still exist.
$4,750,000 will provide for DBHDD to expand funding for MAT service providers, including providers not currently contracted with DBHDD, that already have the training, staff capacity, and ability to offer MAT. DBHDD intends to also utilize funding to ensure sustainability of MAT programs over a three-to-four-year time period.
Enhance capacity for detoxification services
DBHDD contracts with three providers to provide medically monitored residential withdrawal management services, also known as detoxification services, to individuals when a bed at a crisis stabilization unit is not available or is not the most appropriate level of care for an individual. The purpose of detoxification is to provide medical oversight to safely manage withdrawal symptoms for individuals who have stopped using alcohol and certain drugs, specifically opiates. $3,250,000 will allow for DBHDD to contract for detoxification beds with multiple existing detoxification service providers and to invest in system capacity across the state. This increase in bed capacity will reduce the number of individuals waiting for treatment and increases those individuals’ chances of successful recovery.
Implement statewide stigma reduction and opioid abuse public awareness campaign
Stigma surrounding opioid use disorder (OUD) discourages individuals struggling with OUD from accessing services or choosing to work towards recovery.
$2,064,000 will fund a two-year pilot program for DBHDD to create a public awareness campaign to reduce stigma regarding opioid use disorder statewide. The campaign will include formative research, stakeholder outreach and recruitment, campaign execution, and evaluation.
Provide naloxone kits to Emergency Medical Service providers
Emergency Medical Service providers (EMS) personnel indicated to DPH the ongoing need for naloxone kits. $2,017,929 will provide for DPH to distribute approximately 326,000 naloxone kits to EMS providers.
Expand naloxone training and education to service providers
$1,000,000 will support DBHDD’s current SOR-funded program to support training on naloxone administration and safety, specifically among community-based treatment and recovery providers. DBHDD will utilize this investment to focus on educating providers on addiction as a brain disease, creating and sustaining cultures of recovery, and naloxone administration. Additionally, training will focus on bringing providers from all levels of the substance use treatment continuum of care to improve linkages in service and cooperation between providers.