At this year’s Winter MACo Conference, the Attorney General was joined by several local government representatives to discuss Maryland’s settlement with Johnson and Johnson and three major distributors of opioid medication.
The settlement has raised the incredibly important question of “How do we best help the victims of opioid overdose and overdose death, and prevent future victims?” With settlement funds on the way, panelists presented state and local perspectives on this matter, and the most equitable way to distribute funds between local governments and the state.
- The Honorable Brian Frosh, Attorney General, State of Maryland
- David Trolio, Director, Cecil County Department of Community Services
- Gary Kuc, County Solicitor, Howard County
- Eric Bromwell, Opioid Strategy Coordinator, Baltimore County
- Todd Turner, Council Member, Prince George’s County
Council Member Turner introduced the session’s speakers beginning with Attorney General Frosh, who provided a general overview of the settlement terms. He began by urging all counties to register for the settlement, which does not bind them to any funding arrangement. According to Attorney General Frosh, the estimated recovery for Maryland, assuming all counties and municipalities participate, is approximately $502 million. Regardless of how the settlement is split, additional protections will be put in place to ensure opioid medications are not diverted from legitimate sales, and Johnson and Johnson will not sell any opioid medications within Maryland.
Director Trolio followed the Attorney General and provided a presentation on Cecil County’s many efforts to address the opioid epidemic. His presentation included the amount of resources and funds the County has expended to date, as well as its future plans to abate and treat the epidemic. Over the last decade, he noted the hiring of peer recovery specialists, development of destigmatization campaigns, and expansion of recovery houses, among other accomplishments. At present, Director Trolio said Cecil County is improving linkages to care, developing trauma-focused programs, and focusing on harm reduction.
Solicitor Kuc detailed how counties have engaged with the Attorney General’s Office to develop an equitable distribution of funds. He urged counties to move swiftly as numerous adverse rulings have impacted the landscape for opioid medication-related settlements. Solicitor Kuc also pressed counties to begin planning how they might use settlement funds within their jurisdictions to ensure they are in compliance with the settlement agreement.
Former Delegate Bromwell closed out the presentation portion of the session by requesting settlement recipients consider innovative means to address the opioid epidemic. He detailed numerous potential avenues to spend settlement money including medication assisted treatment in correctional facilities, regional crisis stabilization centers, and campaigns to reduce opioid-related stigma. The former delegate emphasized that settlement money must be used in service of people, including frontline workers closest to the epidemic.
More about MACo’s Winter Conference: