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How should the state use settlement funds to address the opioid crisis? Idaho asks public for comments

An arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen, also known as Percocet, in New York.
Patrick Sison
FILE - This Aug. 15, 2017 file photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen, also known as Percocet, in New York.

The Idaho Behavioral Health Council is asking the public how the state should spend opioid settlement funds.

The money comes from a roughly $50 billion nationwide settlement from painkiller manufacturers, distributors and pharmaceutical companies sued over their role in fueling the opioid crisis. Idaho is expected to receive about $200 million over the next two decades, to be divided between the state, counties, cities and public health districts.

The Behavioral Health Council is asking for the public’s input on how to use the funds to address the epidemic, with a focus on evidence-based programs or strategies. The feedback will be used to make recommendations to Governor Brad Little and the legislature.

The CDC reports opioid deaths have increased tenfold in the last 20 years across the country. The settlement determined pharmaceutical companies contributed to the crisis by selling large quantities of highly addictive drugs without safeguards against abuse.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports 381 people died of a drug overdose in 2022, half of those from the synthetic drug fentanyl.

Public comments are open until May 15 and can be submitted directly by email to cfoster@idcourts.net. Examples of approved programs and strategies can be found here. The council is expected to make its recommendations at its next quarterly meeting on June 14.

I joined Boise State Public Radio in 2022 as the Canyon County reporter through Report for America, to report on the growing Latino community in Idaho. I am very invested in listening to people’s different perspectives and I am very grateful to those who are willing to share their stories with me. It’s a privilege and I do not take it for granted.

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