Gov. Kemp signs opioid legislation securing $636M for treatment, prevention
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - On Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp signed major opioid legislation to secure $636 million for state and local governments to support critical treatment and prevention efforts, also known as Senate Bill 500 (SB 500).
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.
“Like every other state, the opioid crisis has hit Georgia communities and families hard and with lasting effect,” said Gov. Brian Kemp. “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. I want to thank Senator Brian Strickland and his co-sponsors for carrying this legislation, and the members of the General Assembly that voted unanimously for it so that impacted Georgians can begin the process of healing.”
“We have worked from the very beginning to ensure Georgia is in the best possible position to receive 100 percent of the resources available to us under the multistate opioid settlement, and today’s bill signing is the culmination of this years-long effort,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “With addiction on the rise, an alarming number of overdoses reported since the start of the pandemic, and the influx of deadly fentanyl flooding our state, Georgia families and communities are in desperate need of help before more lives are lost. With this $636 million, Georgia will now have additional resources to strengthen our response and address this crisis head-on. We appreciate the House and Senate for their unanimous support of this critical measure.”
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. The governor’s office said opioids, especially fentanyl, appear to be driving these increases. During this same time 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. This litigation bar, provided by SB 500, ensures Georgia and local governments are able to receive 100 percent of the settlement dollars available for allocation. 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.
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