Opioid Settlement Toolkit for
Community-Based Organizations

Summary

In the 1990s, health care professionals began prescribing opioid pain medications with false reassurance from pharmaceutical companies that the opioids were not habit-forming. The resulting misuse, addiction, and overdoses has been devastating. Prevention and treatment services are essential in addressing this public health crisis and this toolkit is designed to help community-based organizations understand how to access the funds available through recent settlements with pharmaceutical companies.

After a lengthy legal process, 47 states have settled with opioid manufacturers, pharmaceutical distributors, and pharmacies for $26 billion. After a lengthy legal process to hold companies accountable for downplaying the addictiveness of opioids, 47 states have settled with opioid manufacturers, pharmaceutical distributors, and pharmacies for $26 billion. Separate opioid settlements are in process or concluded in the remaining states as well as additional localities. Though the funds resulting from the major settlement are temporarily in limbo because of legal action taken by the family that owns Purdue Pharma, these resources will ultimately be used to address the opioid crisis, and it is critical that community-based organizations begin preparing now to ensure that these funds are used not just for treatment, but also for prevention.

The settlement funds, proposed to be disbursed over the next 18 years and frontloaded at the beginning, will go to states and localities for the purpose of addressing the opioid epidemic. As these funds flow to entities across the nation, community-based organizations must have a seat at the table to decide how these funds are spent locally. These will be significant investments in the kinds of services our sector provides. The deep impact of the opioid epidemic has made it clear that a major part of the solution will be strengthening communities with upstream resources and supports.

This guide offers tools and resources to help community-based organizations navigate the complex legal and legislative process. Organizations should reach out to relevant stakeholders immediately, as these decisions are being made now in many states.