SALT LAKE COUNTY (ABC4) – Salt Lake County is set to receive $57 million through a recent settlement with major opioid manufacturers to address the opioid crisis in Utah.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, District Attorney Sim Gill, and Sheriff Rosie Rivera announced on Tuesday that Salt Lake County will receive the payments spread out over 18 years, as a result of a landmark settlement between 46 states and thousands of local governments and several opioid manufacturers and distributors.
The county will be getting its first funds in May 2022, and the funds will be allocated to programs that will help address the ongoing crisis through treatment, education, and prevention efforts.
“The opioid crisis continues to devastate our community and families, and this settlement is an unprecedented opportunity to invest in solutions,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “Opioid companies profited off of human suffering and pain. This settlement will never fully address that pain, but this funding will allow us to prevent more people from falling into the trap of opioid addiction and help more families who have already lost so much.”
D.A. Sim Gill says that the settlement is the beginning of the road to community recovery.
“In 2018, we advised the county to sue big pharma because we were witnessing the devastating effects of corporate greed, the loss of lives and destruction of families throughout Salt Lake County. This settlement holds accountable big pharma, so the taxpayer is not left with the costs of corporate selfishness. This is the first step to repair the wake of destruction left behind,” said Gill.
Sheriff Rivera says that the funds will help to change the way we deal with those who commit non-violent offenses, many that are due to opioid addiction.
She states, “Every day, individuals experiencing an opioid addiction are brought to the jail, often on non-violent charges. The funding from this settlement will allow our community to help these individuals before they are arrested while also expanding in-custody treatment services. Keeping people out of the criminal justice system will lead to better long-term outcomes and treating individuals in custody will reduce the likelihood of that individual reoffending.”
While serving on the Salt Lake County Council, Mayor Wilson convened an opioid crisis strategic retreat with the Salt Lake County Council and community leaders. This led to the establishment of the county’s opioid task force, which she chaired with Council Member Steve Debry, until she left the Council when elected Mayor.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics show that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during one-year period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before.
The data indicates that 75,673 of the deaths during that period were due to opioid overdose.