Opioid settlement funds would ‘recoup’ Fort Wright opioid crisis expenses

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Opioid producers are being held accountable for the ongoing opioid crisis, and Fort Wright, like many other Kentucky cities, is seeking to be compensated for the effect the drugs have had.

At a recent meeting, Fort Wright City Council voted to participate in five new national opioid settlements. These settlements were reached with Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Teva, and Allergan over their contributions to the opioid crisis. Kentucky is one of the many states to which these settlement funds will be paid

City attorney Timothy Theissen explained that this results from “lawsuits against manufacturers of opioids.” Theissen said that the lawsuits questioned whether the opioids sold by these companies were “used, sold, and marketed appropriately.” It is widely believed that oversupply of addictive opioid medications can lead to widespread opioid reliance and abuse

All of Northern Kentucky has been hit hard by the heroin epidemic over the last decade, and Fort Wright is no different. Heroin abuse has been the cause of many cases of destruction of property and threats to citizen safety in their city.

In 2015, a driver impaired by heroin and fentanyl killed himself and three other people in a car crash in Fort Wright. In 2016, a driver intoxicated on heroin crashed his car into a Fort Wright Skyline Chili

These events have had economic consequences. Emergency services involved in treating overdosed people are costly. When overdoses rise in frequency in Fort Wright, more Narcan and police labor are required to revive those affected. 

Fort Wright also spent time and money on an anti-heroin education campaign in 2016. City officials went door-to-door with information on the dangers of heroin. They supplemented this mitigation approach by creating a location to deposit “unused and expired prescription medications safely.” 

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Theissen said this is money the city can use to address the ongoing opioid crisis and the rising fentanyl issues.

“We are being recouped for previous expenses from dealing with these issues,” Mayor Dave Hatter said.  

Fort Wright will not need to pay any legal fees or other litigation costs to participate in this suit. Theissen recommended that council voted to participate in the settlement because the alternative is for the city of Fort Wright to sue these companies on its own.

“We’ve already participated in settlements,” Theissen said. “I’ve seen that these settlements have been very successful.”

Council voted to authorize Hatter to sign the participation form. 

At this moment, Fort Wright officials do not know how much money they could receive from the settlement. According to Theissen, the sum of money will be based on the level of participation from cities across Kentucky.

Participation forms are due in Kentucky by April 18, and Theissen predicts that the amount of money to be received will be communicated to Fort Wright officials in early summer. 

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