Statement from Chair Olson-Boseman about Agreement to Fight Opioid Epidemic

Posted April 30, 2021 at 1:25 pm     Category: County CommissionersNews Release

Below is a statement from New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman regarding the recent announcement (included below) by Attorney General Josh Stein and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) that North Carolina has developed a Memorandum of Agreement that governs the use of proceeds from any potential opioid lawsuit settlement, directing the majority of these potential funds to local communities on the front lines of the opioid epidemic.

“In December 2017, New Hanover County joined other city and county governments across North Carolina and the country in a national lawsuit to take action against drug manufacturers and distributors that were fueling the opioid crisis in our communities.

Nearly three and half years have passed since then, and our community is still struggling with opioid addiction, overdoses, and deaths. Since 2017, more than 229 of our residents have died because of an unintentional overdose. And from 2019 to 2020, opioid overdoses increased by 50 percent in that year alone. These aren’t just numbers, they are people – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.

We have to do more to prevent and reduce opioid abuse, and today’s announcement that a Memorandum of Agreement has been developed between state and local governments in North Carolina is an incredible step. This will ensure that settlement proceeds from our national lawsuits with the drug distributors and manufacturers that fueled the epidemic will come to local communities who need it most.

The settlements are still under discussion and not complete, but they have the potential to bring hundreds of millions of dollars into North Carolina with New Hanover County directly benefitting. That means the potential for direct funding set aside for programs and initiatives that help combat opioid abuse and provide resources for people who are struggling – with a sustained commitment over many years.

The City of Wilmington is also part of this national litigation, and we will work collaboratively with them to ensure this funding serves those who need it most. Nothing can bring back the people we have lost, the families that have been torn apart by addiction, or the burdens that have been borne because of the opioid epidemic. But we will work tirelessly to emerge from this with better resources, greater access to treatment and recovery, and more tools to prevent overdoses and save lives.

New Hanover County will bring a resolution forward in May to support this MOA, and I hope all counties and cities across the state do the same.”

Below is the press release sent by NCACC on Friday, April 30:

Attorney General Josh Stein and North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Unveil Historic Agreement to Fight Opioid Epidemic

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners today unveiled a historic agreement to fight the opioid epidemic. The agreement governs how North Carolina would use the proceeds of any future national settlement or bankruptcy resolution with drug distributors Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen and opioid manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma. These potential settlements and resolutions could bring as much as $850 million to North Carolina over an 18-year period to support state and local efforts to address the epidemic.

“The opioid epidemic, in recent years, has taken the lives of more than 16,000 North Carolinians, torn families apart, and ravaged communities from the mountains to the coast,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “These companies helped to create and fuel this epidemic with irresponsible marketing and a lack of oversight – and they must be held accountable to help clean up this mess. I am working hard, along with fellow attorneys general across the country, to do just that. Should we prevail, today’s agreement between the counties and the state is an important step toward getting much-needed resources to communities across North Carolina as they work to address the epidemic and its aftermath.”

“The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact on all 100 counties. We all know someone personally affected by this heartbreaking crisis, and local governments remain on the front lines of this epidemic, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. This historic agreement will ensure potential opioid settlement funds coming into North Carolina get to people in need quickly and effectively. I, along with our NCACC Board of Directors, urge all counties and our municipal partners to sign this groundbreaking agreement as soon as possible,” said NCACC President Ronnie Smith, Chair, Martin County Board of Commissioners. The agreement is endorsed by the NCACC Board of Directors, which adopted a resolution in support of the agreement urging all 100 counties and municipal partners to sign on to it without delay.

“The increase in opioid overdoses we saw during the COVID pandemic is a stark reminder that we need strategic, long-term investments to fight the disease of addiction,” said Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “This agreement provides needed funding for local partners to implement strategies in North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan that prevent overdoses and save lives.”

To maximize funds flowing to North Carolina communities on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, the agreement would direct settlement funds as follows:

  • 15 percent to the state, which the General Assembly would appropriate to address the epidemic.
  • 80 percent to local governments, including all 100 counties and 17 municipalities.
  • An additional five percent to an incentive fund to encourage counties and large- and medium-size municipalities to sign on to the agreement.

In addition, the agreement offers a high level of transparency into how local governments will use the funds, including special revenue funds subject to audit, annual financial and impact reports, and a public dashboard showing how they are using settlement funds to address the epidemic.

The state of North Carolina, 76 counties, and eight municipalities are engaged in litigation with or investigations of opioid manufacturers and distributors. All 100 counties – along with large- and medium-size municipalities – will now have the opportunity to review and sign on to the agreement.

Click here to access a one-pager on this topic.

Click here to access an FAQ on this topic.

Click here to access the memorandum of agreement.


NCDOJ Contact:  Laura Brewer – (919) 716-6484

NCACC Contact: Lacy Pate – (401) 207-6703

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