AG pledges $2M to fight opioids in Twin Counties

New York State Attorney General Letitia James at a news conference in Manhattan on March 28, 2019. Byron Smith/New York Daily News/TNS/File

HUDSON — Columbia and Greene counties are slated to receive about $2 million to help in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

“For more than 20 years, the Capital Region has seen the dangerous and deadly results of opioid addiction, but, today, we are bringing good news to the area by announcing that we will deliver up to $32 million to the Capital Region to combat the opioid crisis,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in Albany County earlier this week as part of the HealNY Tour.

Columbia County will receive between $552,101 and $964,528. Greene County will receive between $666,825 and about $1.2 million.

The funding comes from lawsuits related to manufacturers and distributors held responsible for the opioid crisis. The amounts represent the minimum and maximum amount each area will be receiving from the settlements with Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, Amerisource Bergen and Endo.

All regions of the state will receive millions of dollars for prevention, treatment and recovery programs, James said.

In all, the Capital Region will receive between $17.8 million and $32.5 million.

The more localities across the state that agree to the terms of the settlements, the more each locality is eligible to receive, James said.

The figures do not include payments from Purdue Pharma or the Sackler family because the regional split for those payments are not finalized. Those funds, as well as any funds from future or ongoing litigation, would be added to what is listed for each area.

“With these funds, we can heal New York and turn the tide on the opioid crisis by investing in opioid prevention, treatment and recovery,” James said. “While no amount of money will ever make up for all those we have lost to this lethal addiction, these funds will be vital in helping to prevent future deaths.”

Death from opioid poisoning is a national health crisis, according to the 2020 New York State Opioid Annual Report from the state Department of Health. There were 2,991 opioid overdose deaths in New York state, according to the report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that in 2019 over 70% of the drug-related deaths in the United States involved opioids.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the greatest health crises of our lifetime that devastates communities across New York state every day,” said state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, said. “We know that people in need of treatment for substance use disorder are significantly better served when those services are located in their communities, near their families and support systems. Using opioid settlement funds to expand local treatment opportunities in areas that have been ravaged by drug overdoses, like the city of Amsterdam, is exactly what we need to be doing to ensure that our residents have access to quality, life-saving care.”

The lawsuit filed by James in 2019 was, at the time, the nation’s most extensive lawsuit against various manufacturers and distributors of opioids. The manufacturers and distributors were accused of responsibility for heavily marketing opioids to doctors, hospitals, health care systems and others, which led to the overprescription of the drugs across New York and the rest of the nation over the last two decades.

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(1) comment

scottmyers

The root cause isn't addressed. Treating addiction is best accomplished by improving the community. Greene County has just 13 minority-owned businesses out of 1,200! DSS isn't run by someone with a degree in social service. Ms. Pospesel has an R.N. degree in emergency medicine. The misdirection of funds to an unjustifiable jail ((a new $90 million debt) means there's no money for positive programs. Greene County has a declining per capita and population according to the census and Central Hudson. We lost the Community Center in Catskill. Pathetic really. The County held twenty weekly Alternatives To Incarceration Committee meetings, then ignored their conclusions. Pathetic really. There's almost no discussion of affordable housing. Pathetic really. You can patch a community with substance abuse programs or create a healthy, inclusive community. The Village of Catskill Police looks nothing like our population, and most officers are admitted Oath Keepers. Pathetic really. We demolished the Sheriff's Office at 80 Bridge Street, which was historic and structurally sound. This scheme was needed to get a technical exception to spend over the 2% property tax caps. The plot wasted $6.2 more million dollars. Pathetic really. Recently the County spent $160,000 of Red Cross money for jail equipment. I'm very confident that's not what the donors had in mind. Pathetic really! The County contracted out the health care for the new jail to Pennsylvania. Pathetic really! They're prosecuting me for saying this, but of course, the facts are accurate. It's my responsibility not to back down or look away. The Village of Catskill Logo is the sleeping version of Rip Van Winkle, but the point of the Washington Irving story is that Rip Woke Up. We need to also. Otherwise, we'll continue to patch up people with addiction, wasting more money and time. Perhaps these programs will genuinely lift people in our safety net. But, again, the real solution is to build healthy communities - for everyone.

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