N.J. will use $641M from J&J opioid settlement to fund treatment, prevention, Murphy says

Published: Mar. 11, 2022

New Jersey will use the $641 million it will get from a nationwide settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three major distributors from the country’s opioid addiction crisis to fund drug treatment and prevention across the state, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Friday.

The money is expected to be divided evenly between the state and counties and municipalities, he said. New Jersey’s share is a part of a $26 billion settlement between the drugmaker and the distributors that will be shared among other states.

“We will not give up this fight, and we will not give up hope. And we won’t give up on the residents who need our compassion the most,” Murphy said at Behavioral Crossroads in Egg Harbor.

Murphy didn’t say yet exactly how the money would be used to fight the crisis and fund treatment. But the positive impact will be undeniable, his administration insisted.

“This money will be used to save lives,” Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin said at the event.

Trishia Haines, 42, was among the people at the center that treats people for substance abuse who welcomed the news.

“When I came here I didn’t have anything. I lost everything. I hadn’t spoken to my children or my family in six years,” she told Murphy and other state and local officials who took part in a roundtable discussion.

She described using opioids for years, and explained how she was able to get treatment. Haines has been sober for four years, which drew applause from the audience after she described that she now has the support of her family and her oldest daughter.

“I rebuilt my life again,” she said.

Haines, who said she’s been a counselor at Behavioral Crossroads for a year and a half, urged the money be spent to teach teenagers and young adults, as well as educators and parents, about addiction and signs of drug use.

Dan Keashen, a spokesman for Camden County government, recently told The Associated Press officials are thinking about using settlement money for a public education campaign to warn about the dangers of fentanyl. They also want to send more drug counselors into the streets, put additional social workers in municipal courts and pay for anti-addiction medications in the county jail.

With fatal overdoses continuing to rage across the U.S., largely because of the spread of fentanyl and other illicitly produced synthetic opioids, public health experts are urging governments to use the money to ensure access to drug treatment for people with addictions. They also emphasize the need to fund programs that are proven to work, collect data on their efforts and launch prevention efforts aimed at young people, all while focusing on racial equity.

The money will be paid through 2038.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-03-12 03:27:30 -0800