Hawaii sharing $78 million opioid settlement with four counties

Hawaii will split a $78 million opioid settlement with Kauai, Hawaii, Maui and Honolulu counties, Gov. David Ige said.

The money is Hawaii’s share of a $26 billion settlement with three drug distributors and Johnson and Johnson, according to a news release from Ige’s office.

“The opioid crisis in our state is very real and has ruined the lives of thousands of people,” said Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “This settlement is a major step forward in helping those who battle addiction on a daily basis and will be instrumental in preventing the tragic impacts of opioid misuse. We hear these stories of addiction and overdose far too often – enough is enough.”

Each entity must use 85% of the funds for opioid treatment, education and other abatement strategies, according to the news release. The remaining funds can be used for treatment involving other drugs.

An advisory committee will oversee the distribution of the funds.

The state formed the Hawaii Opioid Initiative in 2017, which includes the Hawaii Department of Health, the Attorney General’s Office and other law enforcement entities. The latest statistics on their page show 59 people died from opioid overdoses between August 2017 and August 2018. About 75% of people begin abusing opioids after receiving a prescription, the organization said.

“Too many of us know children, spouses, neighbors, or colleagues who are suffering every day from the impacts of drug addiction and misuse,” Ige said in a statement Tuesday. “Our efforts will be successful because all stakeholders are working closely together to achieve success.”

The state is likely to see more money from settlements with drug manufacturers as investigations into opioid use are still ongoing, according to Ige’s office.

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