Two San Diego City Council members Wednesday announced an Opioid Crisis Response Roundtable meeting later this year in anticipation of the city allocating the first settlement funds from opioid manufacturers.
Council members Marni von Wilpert and Raul Campillo expect the payout before the fiscal year ends this summer, and are seeking to continue to gather input from “regional stakeholders and experts” as to how the money might best be spent.
“Opioid manufacturers knowingly and intentionally addicted an entire generation of Americans on their drugs for profit, leaving hundreds of thousands of people dead from opioid overdoses and thousands more families in grief,” von Wilpert said. “I look forward to hearing from providers and those with lived experience to help inform how the city will spend these critical funds.”
In 2019, San Diego joined cities and counties around the country in filing suit against Purdue Pharma, members of the Sackler family, and other manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. In 2021, nationwide settlements were reached with the three largest pharmaceutical distributors — McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen — and against manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its parent company Johnson & Johnson.
In all, the distributors will pay up to $21 billion over 18 years, and J&J will pay up to an additional $5 billion over no more than nine years, according to the settlement. The San Diego City Attorney’s Office estimates that the city should expect to receive $40 million over 18 years. To date, San Diego has already received $4.4 million.
In December of last year, von Wilpert and Campillo asked the city’s Independent Budget Analyst to collect input and compile a report outlining options to support an executive order by Mayor Todd Gloria that called for the San Diego Police Department to prioritize enforcement of fentanyl trafficking and sales crimes — as well as the development of a Community Outreach Plan and funding strategy for the settlement funds.
The roundtable meeting does not have a set date yet, but will likely be in late spring — before the city’s budget process begins.
“I know firsthand the dangers of opioid addiction as my family suffered the terrible loss of my older brother, Alex, due to an accidental overdose,” Campillo said. “It’s imperative that we hear from the experts on where this settlement money would be best invested in our community.
In San Diego County, the introduction of fentanyl has led to a 2,345% increase in the number of accidental overdose deaths, up from 33 deaths in 2016 to 807 deaths in 2021, officials said.
–City News Service