Milwaukee County to receive $71 million as a result of opioid settlement

NOW: Milwaukee County to receive $71 million as a result of opioid settlement

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee County officials are hopeful that the $71-million the county is set to receive over the next 18 years will help reduce the number of opioid-related deaths.

"Through this settlement, lives will be saved," said Milwaukee County Corporation Counsel Margaret Daun. "Although very few of the criminals responsible for these deaths and this epidemic will ever see the inside of the courtroom, we are ensuring that their corporations will pay."

The settlement agreement is a part of multi-district litigation against opioid makers filed in Ohio.

According to Daun, the state of Wisconsin will be receiving $402 million, 70 cents for every dollar going toward local litigating jurisdictions.

This means that those local communities will receive around $282-million with approximately $141-million headed to counties in Southeastern Wisconsin.

"We hope that this will be the first in a series of settlements helping to abate this epidemic," Daun added.

According to numbers provided by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, the county saw 343 opioid-related deaths in 2019. That number went up to 463 in 2020 and so far in 2021, 451 opioid-related deaths have been recorded.

"The opioid epidemic has touched all of us," said Marcelia Nicholson, chairwoman for the Milwaukee County Board. "We must take every step possible to fight the scourge of addiction in our community. The funds from this landmark settlement put us in a better position to do just that."

All of the funds received from the settlement must be used for education, treatment and abatement of the opioid epidemic.

"As public servants, it is our duty to respond to a growing demand for prevention and treatment services," added Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. "The opioid epidemic has left a wave of destruction in communities across this state and this nation, but we're now in a better position to fund critical services that will help save lives and mitigate continued suffering from residents, as well as their loved ones and their neighbors."

The funding will also be used to provide law enforcement officers with Naloxone, a medication used to treat suspected overdoses.

"We cannot incarcerate our way out of an addiction epidemic," Daun said. "Our focus will be on getting into the hands of our sheriffs and local police forces, the Naloxone that they need to save the lives of those who are overdosing."

The first payments are expected to be received during the first or second quarter of 2022.

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