Salt Lake County gets $57 million from opioid settlement

Apr 26, 2022, 1:29 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2022, 1:58 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County reached a $57 million settlement Tuesday that will help fight Utah’s opioid crisis.

The money will flow into the county over the course of several years. Salt Lake City is slated to get a good-sized chunk of it.

County leaders said while that money isn’t enough, it is a start.

The opioid epidemic hit Utah hard. In 2014, the state had the fourth most overdose deaths in the country. Overdose deaths declined since 2014. A recent list ranked Utah 38th in the U.S. Last year the country saw an unprecedented 100,000 deaths, and the trend in Utah started heading in the wrong direction.

The county is asking that predatory entities pay for damage done.

Gov. Spencer Cox and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced last year that Utah is set to receive $309 million over an 18-year period as a part of a $26 billion settlement with a number of pharmaceutical companies.

Utah and other states would have to approve the settlement before receiving any of the money.

Utah, several other states, and local governments sued Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson for contributing to the nationwide opioid problem.

Over the next few decades, Salt Lake County will distribute money into the community to address these impacts.

It’s not yet determined where that money will be spent, but County leaders said 85% of the funding is required to go toward opioid abatement. That includes areas like education, support programs, and harm reduction.

Salt Lake County District Attorney, Sam Gill said, “We had a group of corporations that were financially greedy and they victimized communities. We’re going to hold you accountable if you’re going to do this kind of devastation in our community. We’re not going to be left holding the bag.”

Sheriff Rosie Rivera said this is going to help save lives. She said it will also help bring down costs in the long run because it’s expensive to help people brought into jail who are experiencing opioid withdrawals.

There is still outstanding litigation.

The county expected to get the first payment by the end of April or May.

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Salt Lake County gets $57 million from opioid settlement