How will Colorado spend its $400 million opioid settlement?

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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s counties have agreed on how to divide the nearly $400 million in opioid settlement money that will fund addiction treatment, recovery and prevention programs.

As of Nov. 5, each of the state’s 64 counties had signed an agreement on where the money will go.

Suggested uses for the money touch all aspects of addiction, whether it’s funding for the overdose reversal medication naloxone, helping people involved in the criminal legal system overcome addiction or providing services for children whose homes are impacted by opioid use.

Over the last decade, Colorado has counted around 5,500 opioid overdose deaths, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Of the people who use heroin, 70% said they used prescription opioids first.

Meanwhile, the state says it has just a third of the capacity it needs to provide drug treatment. The settlement money is meant to alleviate that by providing resources for treatment, intervention and prevention.

Where is the settlement money coming from?

Here are the sources of the settlement money:

  • $300 million: Johnson & Johnson, Amerisource Bergen, CardinalHealth, McKesson
  • $50 million: Purdue and the Sackler family
  • $25 million: Mallinckrodt
  • $10 million: McKinsey and Company

How will the money be divided?

Local government share: 20%

Local governments will receive 20% of the money. The money is divided among counties based on three factors:

  • the number of people suffering opioid use disorder in the county
  • the number of opioid deaths that happened in the county
  • the amount of opioids distributed within the county

Regional share: 60%

For the purposes of distributing the money, Colorado is divided into 19 regions that will receive 60% of the money overall. The regions were “drawn by local governments to make use of existing local infrastructure and relationships.”

Each region will have its own council to determine how to spend the money.

Colorado divided the state into 19 regions for distributing its nearly $400 million in opioid settlement money. (Credit: Colorado Attorney General’s Office)

State share: 10%

The state will take 10% of the money for “statewide priorities in combating the opioid epidemic.”

Statewide infrastructure share: 10%

Another 10% of the money will be spent on developing or improving “infrastructure necessary to abate the opioid crisis anywhere in Colorado.”

Attorneys fees

Up to 8.7% of the local government’s share and 4.35% of the regional share can go to attorneys’ fees. Law firms “must first apply to any national common benefit fee fund” before Colorado will disburse any of its local shares.

Any excess money will go to local governments.

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