This week, Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel stood with families and announced a historic agreement to settle with manufacturers and distributors of opioids for their role in unlawfully marketing, promoting, and dispensing prescription opioids.
Maricopa County is the first county government in Arizona to sign this agreement, which is expected to bring approximately $580 million dollars to the state of Arizona and $80 million to the residents of Maricopa County. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, in collaboration with 14 County Attorneys and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, are at the forefront of a resolution many years in the making.
“The impact of this epidemic staggering. It is cruel and it is deadly, and it doesn’t care about your race or gender or socio-economic standing,” stated County Attorney Adel. “And while throwing money at an issue does not solve it, it will get us closer to healing this community, which has been ravaged by this epidemic. It will also hold accountable those who distributed this very dangerous narcotic to our loved ones and provide resources for a full spectrum of services to our community.”
Since 2017, the Arizona Department of Health Services reports nearly 11,000 Arizonans have died of an opioid overdose. It is the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50. From 2002 to 2016, fatal overdoses of heroin increased 533% as a result of this epidemic. Prescriptions tripled from 1991 to 2011. Sales increased ten times what they were in early 90s.
“This money will be used to treat, prevent, and help people recover from opioid use disorder and support both government and non-profit organizations working to address this issue,” Adel went on to say. “I am especially proud that unlike the tobacco settlements in the 1990’s, which allowed government agencies to spend funding without restrictions, this agreement locks the funding in place. And, while today is just the first step of many, it is the beginning of a journey that will bring much needed relief and resources.”
Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL) Director Kim Humphrey attended the news conference with his family, including two sons who are both in recovery from opioid use disorder. At the conference, Kim shared his family’s story. As a retired law enforcement commander, he was shocked when learned his 15 year old son tested positive opioids. This began a multi-year journey towards recovery for his sons. The hardship brought on by addiction connected Kim and his wife to PAL, an organization dedicated to educating and supporting family members of those with substance abuse issues. Kim’s two sons and wife were at the news conference to celebrate this announcement.
For more information about the National Opioid Settlement, visit https://nationalopioidsettlement.com/