King County proposes $21M from settlements toward drug treatment programs

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(The Center Square) – King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a new proposal that would utilize settlement funds to go to reduce overdose deaths in the county.

Washington state and 125 eligible counties and cities within the state settled litigation against three opioid distributors in 2022. The jurisdictions will recover a total of $518 million over the next 17 years from McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health Inc. and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp.

King County’s settlement is estimated to bring in between $1 million to $1.5 million per year over the next 17 years. In total the county is set to be allocated $56 million from the settlement. That is the most out of all Washington state counties.

A press release from Constantine’s office totals $21 million in settlements to be used for community-based overdose prevention services.

Constantine’s proposal would fund local programs and services specifically geared to reducing overdose deaths and expanding drug treatment.

King County is on track to break the annual record for overdose deaths that was previously broken in 2022. There were 1,000 deaths attributed to drug overdose last year. That is nearly double the 506 overdose deaths countywide that were recorded in 2020.

As of Oct. 5, there have been 993 overdose deaths, according to the King County Fatal Overdose Dashboard.

“While we can’t undo the damage already done, we can help people recover, and work toward stopping any further harm,” Constantine said in a statement. “These investments center community-led initiatives that connect residents across the county with the treatment, prevention, and resources needed to turn the tide on opioid overdoses.”

The majority of the proposed funding would be distributed through competitive grant processes for drug overdose prevention services. According to Constantine’s office, services could entail locating drug prevention and response programs in supportive housing, expanding counseling services and providing access to services for people not connected to care.

The proposal will be presented to the King County Council for consideration and possible approval.

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