Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie’s Opioid Advisory Committee (OAC) has announced its 18-month “roadmap” for the allocation of funds Bucks County was awarded in a lawsuit against several opioid giants.
Speaking at a Commissioners’ Meeting in early December, OAC Chair and Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc., Executive Director Diane Rosati said the proposed uses of the funds target prevention, treatment and recovery supports, as well as project oversight and evaluation.
One key proposal includes plans for a behavioral health crisis center in Doylestown. Plans are being developed in partnership with the county, law enforcement and provider partners, Rosati said, with an initial proposed commitment of $900,000 in settlement funds.
Other projects, Rosati said, include a “significant push” to expand distribution of the overdose reversing drug naloxone (commonly referred to by the brand name Narcan), a partnership with Children and Youth Social Services Agency to provide housing for women and children and a “mobile prevention education unit” similar to the one featured Bensalem Police Department’s popular “Behind Closed Doors” program.
“This is a great roadmap for the county to follow over the next 18 months,” said Commissioner Harvie, who created the committee in the spring to give recommendations on uses of the settlement funds.
In addition to the perspectives of the diverse slate of committee members, Rosati said, the group also relied on input from county residents, as well as drug and drug and alcohol service providers and stakeholders when crafting its recommendations.
The OAC will continue to provide advice on use of settlement funds, of which the county expects to receive about $45 million over 18 years.
According to the state Office of Attorney General, the settlement with opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, and manufacturer Johnson & Johnson resulted from investigations into the companies’ alleged illegal and misleading business practices that helped fuel the opioid addiction crisis.
“Over the past few decades, our country has been ravaged by an opioid epidemic that kills tens of thousands of people every year,” Harvie said. “There are some guilty parties seeing their days in court, and there is some justice being served to some level.”
As plans are further developed, projects proposed by the OAC will begin to appear on Commissioners’ Meeting agendas to be voted on by the Board of Commissioners.
Click here to view the committee’s full report.
Watch Rosati’s presentation to the Commissioners on buckscounty.gov, YouTube or Facebook.
Media Contact: James O’Malley, 215-348-6414, [email protected]