In July 2021, NC Attorney General Josh Stein announced a settlement agreement concerning litigation against several pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturers for their role in creating the opioid epidemic. The national settlement totaled $26 billion, with $750 million awarded to North Carolina. Funding could increase as additional litigation is settled.
Alexander County will receive approximately $5,935,178 over a period of 18 years through the North Carolina Opioid Settlements, as a result of litigation against several pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturers for their role in creating the opioid epidemic. Alexander County, as well as other communities across the state and nation, can use these funds to battle the opioid epidemic by providing treatment, recovery, harm reduction, and other life-saving programs and services. The funds can only be used for strategies which address the negative impacts that opioid use has had on citizens. For more information, including North Carolina’s Opioid Settlement dashboard, visit https://ncopioidsettlement.org.
Use of Funds
Alexander County has received $425,822 (as of July 2023) and is expected to receive $811,663 in fiscal year 2023-2024. On July 17, 2023, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to allocate $202,000 of opioid settlement funding for a Post-Overdose Response Team (PORT)/Community Paramedic, which will visit overdose survivors within 24-72 hours to connect them to resources for addiction treatment, recovery support, harm reduction services, primary healthcare, and other support needed to improve the patients’ health and well-being. The funding includes salary and benefits, vehicle, uniform, equipment, and office supplies. No Alexander County taxpayer dollars are being used for this program.
The Alexander County Substance Use Disorder Coalition was formed in early 2022 and was tasked to become a steering committee to identify effective strategies to battle the opioid epidemic in the county. The coalition developed a list of proposed strategies for Alexander County, which included post-overdose response to provide follow-up care for overdose patients, early intervention efforts in middle and high schools, transportation for persons in recovery to access medical resources, and services targeting substance use disorder recovery.
Alexander County EMS calls for overdoses have greatly increased since the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of fentanyl use, from 62 calls in 2020 to 90 calls in 2022. So far in 2023, there have been 70 overdose calls, which is expected to reach 120 calls by year end. From January 2022 to July 2023, there have been 21 opioid overdose deaths in Alexander County.
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners heard a report on the NC Opioid Settlement Funding from David Moose, Compliance & Procurement Specialist, at the July 17th meeting.