The Washington State Attorney General and a Skagit County Commissioner have written an editorial in which they state that Washington has the opportunity to finally do something about the opioid crisis – but all the counties in the state need to sign on to the agreement if they want all the funds they were supposed to get.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki wrote the editorial for the Seattle Times, stating that the state might not receive the full amount of funds promised from a settlement that resulted from a lawsuit against the Big Three opioid distributors by Ferguson’s office. They note that to get all of the money, all Washington counties and every city with a population over 10,000 people have to agree to the settlement by September 23. If they do, then the state will receive hundreds of millions of dollars starting in December.
Ferguson and Janicki say that the funds will be used for more treatment, as well as more support for both those affected by the opioid epidemic and for the first responders who have to handle things like overdose cases. The money can also go toward developing new programs and developing ways to prevent youth from trying opioids. Ferguson and Janicki are quick to point out this includes combating fentanyl and the problems it’s been causing in the state.
Back in November 2021, Ferguson’s office decided to reject a national settlement offered by three opioid manufacturers and instead take the three to court. This resulted in a resolution-in-principle that gives the state not only part of the settlement but also an additional $46 million. Ferguson’s office tried a similar tactic regarding a bankruptcy plan from Purdue and also got more money for the state to use toward tackling the opioid epidemic.
In the editorial, Ferguson and Janicki acknowledge that money won’t bring back the lives lost to opioids, including that of Janicki’s own son. But the money can help prevent more lives from being lost. Washington counties and cities are urged to sign on to the resolution by the deadline.