RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Attorney General Mark Herring’s legislation was approved Friday that helps ensure funds from opioid litigation are used for opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery.
“The opioid crisis has upended lives and devastated communities and families in every corner of the Commonwealth. It’s a unique crisis, and solving it will require a unique, thoughtful approach,” said Herring.
If enacted into law, this proposal would make Virginia one of the first states in the nation to have a legislatively enacted framework for directing funds from opioid litigation toward the crisis instead of diverting it to other uses.
This will direct funds secured through Herring’s ongoing lawsuits against drug manufacturers and distributors toward ensuring the money goes toward addressing the opioid crisis.
“I’m going after the pharmaceutical companies and distributors who helped create, prolong, and profit off this crisis, and I want to make sure that, when we’re successful, the money is used to address the crisis, expand our capacity for treatment and recovery, and to save lives,” Herring said.
“I really appreciate the partnership and leadership of Senator Barker, Delegate Herring, and their colleagues in the legislature who supported this really important framework, and especially those in the recovery community who have our back in this fight.”
The bills will help bring order and predictability to the distribution process if funds are secured, rather than forcing the Commonwealth to wait for a potentially significant influx of money, and then having to decide how to handle it.
They will also establish an Opioid Abatement Authority controlled by subject matter experts who will ensure that funds are used wisely to support prevention, treatment, and recovery.
If approved, the Board of the Opioid Abatement Authority would include:
- The Secretary of Health & Human Resources or their designee
- Two medical professionals with expertise in public and behavior health administration or opioid use disorders and their treatment
- A representative of the addiction and recovery community
- An urban or suburban representative from a CSB
- A rural representative from a CSB
- A law enforcement official
- A local government official
- A local government attorney
- As non-voting members, House Appropriations and Senate Finance & Appropriations Directors (or legislators from the committees, in the Senate version)
The legislation calls for the abatement funds to be partitioned in the following way:
- 70% for opioid abatement split evenly (35% each) between 1) regional projects and 2) projects identified as effective by the Board of experts.
- 15% reserved for state-identified abatement initiatives
- 15% reserved for locality-identified abatement initiatives