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Steve Marshall says that Alabama has received more than $800 million in opioid settlements

On Monday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) spoke at the National League of Cities' (NLC) Congressional City Conference on a panel focused on litigation settlements with major opioid pharmaceutical companies. AG Marshall also addressed the impact the opioid crisis has had on municipalities across the United States.

"Alabama's first-in-the-nation approach to individually taking legal action against opioid distributors and manufacturers allowed the state to directly address the devastating impacts of the epidemic in our own backyard," Attorney General Marshall said. "As a result, the state of Alabama's settlement amounts have been markedly higher than those states involved in the national settlement agreement. These funds present a historic opportunity to alleviate the damage that opioid abuse caused in our communities."

Nowhere has the opioid crisis hit harder than in Alabama. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama ranked first place in the nation for per-capita opioid prescriptions in 2022 with 74.5 prescriptions per 100 residents. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) 1,408 Alabamians died from drug overdoses in 2021 alone. 70% of those were opioid related.

Methamphetamine and fentanyl were almost tied at No. 1 for being the drugs posing the greatest threat in Alabama, according to the 2022 Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Treatment Assessment Survey. They are followed by heroin, controlled prescription drugs, marijuana, cocaine and new psychoactive drugs.

Greg Cochran is the Executive Director of the Alabama League of Municipalities. Cochran recommended to NLC that the attorney general be a part of the important panel discussion because of his leadership and efforts to support Alabama's cities and towns with this issue.

"We appreciate Attorney General Steve Marshall for fighting to get Alabama more funding in an expedient way to assist our municipalities with combatting the opioid crisis," said Cochran. "Unfortunately, we all know someone, whether a loved one, friend or neighbor, who has been affected by this epidemic. From newsletters to a webinar, our office has and will continue to work in partnership with the attorney general's office to ensure communities are utilizing the funds to provide education, prevention resources and treatment options for their citizens."

NLC's First Vice President Sharon Weston Broome, the Mayor of Baton Rouge, moderated the panel discussion.

In addition to Marshall and Cochran; the Mayor of Zanesville, Ohio Donald Mason; and Mark Hayes, the executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League also participated in the discussion.

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) is an affiliate of the NLC. The ALM and Marshall's office have been working together to ensure that Alabama's municipal leaders are taking advantage of the more than $800 million that is available in opioid settlements.

This past November, Attorney General Marshall sent a letter to local leaders statewide emphasizing the importance of implementing long-term strategies for the opioid settlement funds. These funds are shared with the state, local governments and public hospitals. Approximately 178 municipalities participated in each of the previous settlements. While there is some variation in the approved uses amongst the settlements, they all generally require that these funds be spent to address three broad categories of abatement: education, prevention and treatment.

Alabama municipalities are encouraged to collaborate regionally and use Attorney General Marshall's office as a resource as projects are proposed before the Alabama Legislature's newly established Oversight Commission on Alabama Opioid Settlement Funds. Even if a city did not sign on to these settlements in 2022 and 2023, every city has the opportunity to work with their county because all 67 counties participated.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandonmreporter@gmail.com

 

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