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Kemp signs legislation to secure $636M in opioid funds

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Published: May. 2, 2022 at 11:49 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday signed legislation to ensure the state and local governments get $636 million for opioid treatment and prevention.

The funds are made available by the $26 billion multistate opioid settlement with Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – and opioid manufacturer and marketer Johnson & Johnson.

Fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses have been increasing nationally and in Georgia in recent years and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

From 2019 to 2021, fatal drug overdoses in Georgia increased by 55.9 percent – representing the loss of 2,327 lives. Opioids, specifically fentanyl, appear to be driving these increases. During this same period, fentanyl-involved overdose deaths increased by 218.4 percent – representing the loss of 1,248 Georgia lives.

Under the national settlement agreement, the state is required to enact a litigation bar that prevents local governments from pursuing any further legal action in the future.

With SB 500 signed into law, the state will receive an initial allocation of $66 million from the Johnson & Johnson funds within 90 days, as opposed to over a multi-year period. In addition, more than 230 local governments, public service entities, hospital associations, sheriffs’ offices and community service boards are positioned to receive financial relief through regional distribution or direct payment of funds.

“Like every other state, the opioid crisis has hit Georgia communities and families hard and with lasting effect,” Kemp said. “These funds will help us fight the good fight against the disease of addiction, help us make our communities more secure, and help us see that justice is done for the victims of these opioid manufacturers and distributors.”

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