RADFORD – The City of Radford is one of thousands of communities across the U.S. that will soon be receiving a yearly allocation of funds as a result of the landmark multi-billion-dollar lawsuit against the manufacturer and distributors of opioid pain medications.
The Radford City Council recently passed a resolution creating an Opioid Abatement Commission to oversee how those funds will be used in the city.
Radford is expected to receive between $70,000 and $80,000 each year as one of the many litigating local governments nationwide in the $26 billion global opioid settlements that were finalized with drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, in Feb. 2022. The settlements require 85% of the funds be allocated to programs that will help address the ongoing opioid crisis through treatment, education, and prevention efforts. It is the first of its kind, administering funds directly to state and local governments specifically for relief programs to help address the effects of the opioid epidemic on communities.
“Rather than simply adopting these funds into the budgets of the organization that are already working on these things, we’re creating something a little different, something that would be new for Radford and maybe even for the commonwealth, where a group of citizens could take a look at what’s out there, ask people to submit concepts on how best to address this problem, and then have them make recommendations to the council on how best to appropriate that money on an annual basis,” said Radford Mayor David Horton in introducing the concept of the new commission.
Horton said the funds “could go a long way in helping a variety of different programs and maybe pilot something that would do something very different for folks,” than the help currently available. Horton said he hopes some members of the commission, the members of which have not yet been chosen, could have firsthand knowledge of addiction.
“Part of my hope with this is that we can engage people who have struggled with addiction, who have had family members involved with addiction, who have experienced it in a firsthand level [as members of the Commission],” said Horton. “So often with this, we look at it from a 30,000-foot level, and a program might logically make sense, but does it really make a difference to the person who is using, to the person who is struggling?”
In addition to Radford’s local allocation, millions of dollars in state grants will be available by application and approval.
At its next meeting set for Oct. 24 at 7 p.m., Radford City Council members plan to nominate individuals to serve on the seven-member commission.