A new report advises states and localities receiving opioid settlement funds to avoid some of the missteps that diminished the potential public health impact of the tobacco settlement.
In the report by the RAND-USC Schaeffer Opioid Policy Tools and Information Center (OPTIC), experts describe the “best bets” for putting settlement funds to work, based on the available science.
The experts warn against using settlement funds to repay debts or replace current funds. They also advise against spending settlement funds immediately, or spending them on ineffective programs.
According to the report, programs that can most immediately and effectively reduce overdose rates included distributing naloxone, detecting fentanyl, providing sterile syringes and connecting people to adequate housing. Other promising ideas include Medicaid and enforcing parity rules in private insurance.
The report notes that other pitfalls include ignoring predominantly non-white communities that have been deeply harmed by the War on Drugs, and spending the settlement funds without evaluation or monitoring.