Addiction treatment advocates have concerns about the $26 billion settlement announced last week that ended lawsuits over the opioid crisis, Reuters reports. Advocates say the funds will arrive slowly and could be misspent.
The settlement ended years of litigation between state attorneys general and Johnson & Johnson and three U.S. drug distributors. The payments from drug distributors will be made over 18 years, while the Johnson & Johnson payments will be made over nine years.
Spending will be overseen by state agencies that are removed from the opioid crisis, noted Michelle Wright of the Harm Reduction Coalition, which focuses on preventing overdose deaths. “They don’t have the lived experience of why the money should be used a certain way,” she said.
Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, noted that 30% of the funds can be used to repay governments for money spent on past expenditures. “I think there are some good concepts in this agreement, but there is a lot of room for implementation,” Sharfstein said. “Vigilance is going to be really important.”