CHICAGO (WMBD) — The state of Illinois will receive $760 million as part of a settlement agreement with three pharmaceutical distributors and one manufacturer of opioids, and Gov. JB Pritzker signed an executive order Friday to ensure that these funds go towards fighting the opioid epidemic.
Distributors Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson were sued by the Attorneys General of 52 states and territories for their role in creating and fueling the nationwide opioid epidemic.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul garnered participation by more than 290 Illinois government subdivisions in the suit as well.
Raoul and Pritzker spoke Friday about the next steps that they have planned for this funding.
“I’m taking executive action to ensure these new resources truly address the best interventions, prevention, and remediation for the communities hurt by these harms. Everyone’s life is worth saving, and this administration will leave no stone unturned as we work to bring the opioid epidemic to an end,” said Pritzker at a press conference Friday.
The Executive Order for the Administration of Settlement Proceeds that Pritzker signed Friday establishes the IDHS Office of Opioid Settlement Administration (OOSA) and the appointment of a Statewide Opioid Settlement Administrator (SOSA).
The OOSA and SOSA will ensure that remediation funds are allocated to align with the state’s plan to reduce and prevent overdoses, as well as ensuring that funds are used equitably to fund recovery and treatment programs in communications that need it most.
Several lawmakers, including State Rep. Deborah Conroy (D-Villa Park).
“The opioid epidemic has too often torn families and communities apart, and together we must take real action to help those struggling with addiction receive the proper care they deserve,” Conroy said. “This settlement is a historic opportunity to invest critically-needed resources in communities that need help now. This funding will help save lives.”
Attorney General Raoul said that he has been pushing to hold companies accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic since the beginning of his term.
Raoul said he plans to “make sure that funding from this settlement and any future settlement is spent equitably on abatement, even in instances where victims and survivors of addiction have transitioned from dependence on pharmaceutical opioids to street heroin.”
According to the Department of Human Services, nearly eight Illinoisans die from opioid overdose each day.
IDHS urges any Illinois resident who believes they or a loved one may be addicted to opioids to seek help by calling the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances at 833-2FINDHELP, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.