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Kentucky AG Cameron announces commission to oversee opioid settlement funds

Kate Howard

Kentucky leaders will soon start planning how to spend nearly $500 million from a multistate settlement with four companies accused of fueling the opioid crisis.

On Monday, Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced appointments to the Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission, which will help determine how best to use the funds Kentucky will receive over the next 18 years.

Cameron announced in February the state was set to receive a total of $480 million, part of a $26 billion settlement between nearly all U.S. states and companies Cardinal Health, McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson. All four either manufactured or distributed the drugs.

The funds will be split between state and local government, under provisions laid out in Kentucky House Bill 427, which was passed last year. It will go toward programs supporting addiction intervention, treatment and recovery.

“I encourage all those that are in this fight to give serious thought to how these dollars can be best utilized, what programs are needed, what group can we walk alongside and assist in the good work that they’re already doing, and how can these funds break the cycle of addiction,” Cameron said Monday during a news conference.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that between April 2020 and April 2021, there were roughly 100,000 overdose deaths in the U.S.

In Kentucky, there were nearly 2,000 deaths in 2021 alone.

“As I’ve said many times before, the drug epidemic is the greatest public safety challenge of our lifetime,” Cameron said. “We see its effects every day in every corner of the commonwealth.

“It’s reflected in our child abuse and neglect statistics, in our crime numbers and in our human trafficking reports. We see it in the halls of schools, the streets of communities and in our homes.”

The 11-member commission will be led by Bryan Hubbard, representing the attorney general’s office.

“This commission and its work have been paid for with the lives of our kinfolk, who lie buried beneath the ground of every one of the 120 counties which comprise this commonwealth,” Hubbard said.

The team also includes the secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Kentucky State Treasurer, people appointed from each chamber of the general assembly, and representatives of law enforcement, citizens, victims of the opioid crisis and the drug treatment and prevention community.

Members are not paid, but may be compensated for related expenses such as travel.

To find addiction resources by location, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or call its toll free hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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