Graham Kilmer
MKE County

County Wins Award for Opioid Settlement Fund Usage

Award applauds the county's investment of settlement funds from opioid epidemic lawsuit.

By - Apr 4th, 2024 08:13 pm
Harm reduction vending machine. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Harm reduction vending machine. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Milwaukee County won an award for its use of funding from the historic opioid settlement it received in 2021.

A coalition of community organizations working with faculty from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recognized the county for its stewardship of funding from a $102 million settlement with opioid producers and distributors. The award acknowledges that the county is following a list of principles the coalition determined will help ensure the most effective use of these funds.

The county conducted community listening sessions to identify where to allocate funding, and developed a five-year plan for reducing fatal and non-fatal overdoses, according to the county executive’s office.

One high-profile project funded with opioid settlement funds is the Narcan vending machines placed around the county. The county has already placed 11 of these machines and is planning to add another eight. The machines freely provide harm-reduction items like life-saving narcan, which can reverse an overdose, and fentanyl test strips.

“For years, local leaders and organizations across Wisconsin have been on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. The $102 million in opioid settlement funds have the potential to be transformative for our community, helping to save lives from this epidemic and mitigate continued suffering for residents and their loved ones,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley in a statement. “We appreciate this recognition of our efforts. Looking ahead, Milwaukee County is committed to doing all we can to combat the opioid crisis, make the best use of these funds and deliver critical resources into the community – because lives depend on it.”

Milwaukee County was not alone in its lawsuit against companies that produced and distributed opioid narcotics like Oxycontin. Localities across Wisconsin and the U.S. joined in, securing settlement funds for communities dealing with the social consequences of the opioid epidemic.

The Johns Hopkins faculty and community organizations developed five general principles for governments to follow when allocating settlement funds: spend money to save lives, use evidence to guide spending, invest in youth prevention, focus on racial equity and develop a fair and transparent process for deciding where to spend the money. The

The county was awarded for “Excellence in the Application of the Opioid Litigation Principles.”

Update: This story has been updated to clarify that the award comes from Johns Hopkins faculty and community organizations, not the school.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics

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