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United Way of Lancaster County


First payment from opioid settlement expected soon


Lancaster County is expecting to receive its first payment from Pennsylvania’s share of the national opioid settlement “in the next month or so,” according to county Solicitor Jackie Pfursich.

Negotiated with four major opioid producers and distributors by states’ attorneys general, including Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro, the settlement provides $26 billion nationwide to settle claims arising from the indiscriminate marketing and distribution of opioids, which has led to widespread addiction and thousands of overdose deaths.

Pennsylvania’s share is expected to be a little more than $1 billion. All 67 counties will receive a portion: Lancaster County is in line to receive more than $3.6 million in 2022 and more than $15.8 million over the next 18 years.

The money can be used for various prevention and treatment services, including medication-assisted treatment, the deployment of naloxone to reverse overdoses, wrap-around recovery programs, prison-based treatment, evidence-based education and prevention campaigns and more.

As part of the arrangement, individual counties and larger municipalities were required to sign on, with the amount of the settlement depending on how many did so. In Lancaster Counties, all municipalities that needed to sign on did so.

Commissioner Josh Parsons has been leading a work group to plan how to use the money, Pfursich said. The proposal is to be presented to the full board of commissioners at their Tuesday, Aug. 30, work session.

Click to enlarge. (Source: Pa. Dept. of Health | Lancaster Joining Forces)

Lancaster County has certainly felt the effects of the opioid crisis. Overdose deaths here began climbing sharply a few years ago, prompting the establishment of the Joining Forces task force in 2017. A subsequent two-year decline appears to have been reversed by the pandemic: Overdose deaths climbed from 99 in 2019 to 143 in 2020 and 150 in 2021, according to state data.

The $26 billion settlement involves the companies Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. Since then, other pharmaceutical companies that dealt in opioids have agreed to pay out another $14 billion or so.