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North Carolina Recognized for Efforts to Combat the Opioid Crisis and Save Lives

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Contact: Nazneen Ahmed

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein and North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) Executive Director Kevin Leonard today announced that North Carolina received an award for excellence for its application of the Principles for Use of Fund from the Opioid Litigation developed by a coalition of organizations led by faculty and staff at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The coalition tracks how states and municipalities work to effectively and equitably distribute opioid settlement funds. North Carolina and Rhode Island are recipients of the Award for Excellence in the Application of the Opioid Litigation Principles for the second quarter of 2023.

Launched earlier this year, the quarterly awards are based on the Principles for the Use of Funds from the Opioid Litigation. The Principles were developed to guide states and localities in how to effectively and equitably allocate funds to address overdoses. The 5 Principles are:

  • Principle 1: Spend the money to save lives
  • Principle 2: Use evidence to guide spending
  • Principle 3: Invest in youth prevention
  • Principle 4: Focus on racial equity
  • Principle 5: Develop a fair and transparent process for deciding where to spend the funding

“The best way to turn the tide on the opioid crisis is to make sure we are delivering help to the people who need it,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I’m grateful for all of the hard work of my team, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, and the thousands of people across the state who are committed to getting this urgent work right. I’m proud that North Carolina was honored in this way, and I look forward to our continuing to set a standard for the rest of the nation.”

“It’s an honor for the Association to represent North Carolina counties leading the work statewide,” said North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Executive Director Kevin Leonard. “Local communities in North Carolina are best positioned to use this money to save lives. We appreciate the ongoing collaboration between NCACC, the North Carolina Department of Justice, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the University of North Carolina and our North Carolina counties and municipalities that are using evidence to guide spending to address the opioid overdose crisis in North Carolina.”

North Carolina stands to receive $1.5 billion out of $56 billion in nationwide funds. NCDOJ worked closely with NCACC to develop a Memorandum of Agreement that distributes funds to local governments and the state from a $26 billion agreement that Attorney General Stein helped negotiate with the three largest prescription opioid distributors and Johnson & Johnson. Eighty-five percent of these funds will go directly to North Carolina’s local communities to support prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery, and other strategies to address the opioid overdose epidemic. The balance will go to the state for the same purposes. Last year, the state and local governments received $93.3 million as part of the first year of payments. Combined with recent settlements and bankruptcies involving Teva, Allergan, CVS, Walgreens, and others.

The Principles coalition praised North Carolina for devoting almost all of these settlement funds to addressing the opioid epidemic—some states have used portions of their settlement for attorneys’ fees–and for creating the Community Opioid Resources Engine for North Carolina (CORE-NC). CORE-NC has evidence-based materials for counties and municipalities to use as they decide how to spend the funds and was developed in partnership with the University of North Carolina Injury Prevention Research Center (UNC-IPRC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. CORE-NC includes resources, payment schedules and extensive county-specific data to help guide local spending, and guidance on strategies that work. In addition, CORE-NC will serve as an information clearinghouse for reports on the use and impact of opioid settlement funds for the duration of the 18-year settlement.

“The opioid settlement funds are an exciting opportunity to add additional dollars to address the opioid crisis,” says Sara Whaley, MPH, MSW, research associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and one of the coordinators of the Principles. “North Carolina’s plan for the next 18 years is a great example of how the Principles can be applied at both a state and local level and can set up a system for success now and for years to come.”

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