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Hubbard County could see up to $75K from opioid settlements

Hubbard County is currently receiving $37,800 annually over 18 years to address the opioid epidemic. Minnesota's latest settlement could double that amount. The county plans to form a task force about how to utilize the funds.

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Assorted pills and capsules in pill organizer and pill cutter
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Hubbard County will receive a “considerable” amount of money from Minnesota’s settlements with opioid companies.

“There’s been more settlements than just the first one we got,” Hubbard County Social Service Director Brian Ophu told county commissioners on Tuesday, April 4.

So far, Ophus said the county has received $210,600.

The state has initiated settlements with five more drug companies, he continued, “so we’re anticipating a considerable more amount of money. And it’s going to continue for quite some time.”

Ophus plans to form a task force to decide how to utilize the funds to address needs in Hubbard County. He proposed inviting CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Health Director Marlee Morrison, Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes, County Administrator Jeff Cadwell, a county commissioner and himself to sit on the task force.

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“It’s going to be considerably more than we originally thought, so it would be really good to get this money and use it for helping the citizens of Hubbard County with the results of the opioid epidemic,” Ophus said.

County commissioners authorized county staff to “execute all necessary documents to ensure county participation in the multi-state settlements relating to opioid distributors and manufacturers and in the Minnesota Opioids State-Subdivision memorandum of agreement (MOA).”

This resolution allows the county to opt into all future opioid settlements as well as the most recent one.

Local governments have until April 18 to join the Minnesota State Attorney General Office’s (AGO) settlements with Teva, Allergen, CVS, Walgreens and Walmart and sign the amended MOA.

Past and ongoing settlements

In July 2021, the AGO joined historic, $26-billion, multi-state settlement agreements with pharmaceutical distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

According to the AGO’s website ( https://www.ag.state.mn.us/opioids ), “These settlements will bring more than $300 million into Minnesota over the next 18 years to fight the opioid crisis.”

In Dec. 2021, Minnesota cities and counties and the AGO agreed to distribute 75% of the funds to counties and cities and 25% to the state. The original MOA also details how the funds can be used to combat the opioid crisis, including detailed programs and strategies focused on treatment, prevention and harm reduction.

Ophus said Hubbard County is receiving $37,800 annually over 18 years from this original settlement.

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In Dec. 2022, the AGO joined five additional multi-state settlements, worth $20.4 billion, with major opioid manufacturers Teva Pharmaceuticals and Allergan, and three of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains – Walmart, CVS and Walgreens. Minnesota’s share of these settlements could be around $235 million.

This month, the MOA with cities and counties was amended to apply to the five additional settlements above.

The updated MOA allocates 0.4582368775192% of the latest settlement to Hubbard County.

Cadwell said he will provide an estimate of the annual revenues. He calculated that it could be roughly double the current $37,800 – or $75,600 per year.

“It’s a lot of money to Social Services and public health,” Ophus commented.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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