Organizations request a share of opioid grant money

BEDFORD – Several organizations requested a share of the county’s opioid grant money.

Attorney General Todd Rokita reported in July 2021 that Indiana was due to receive $507 million in compensation through a $26 billion settlement involving multiple states seeking damages from pharmaceutical companies Purdue Pharma, creator of the highly addictive OxyContin, and the company’s owners, the Sackler family.

The litigation also seeks damages from major distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen. These companies are each credited with the distribution of large quantities of opioid painkillers, which have been linked with addiction and overdose deaths. Johnson & Johnson is also implicated as a manufacturer and marketer. 

The terms of the original litigation stipulated local communities, including Lawrence County, would receive only 15% of the $507 million settlement. The state was due to receive another 15%, with the remaining balance of 70% heading to the Indiana Family Social Services Administration. 

However, Commissioner Rodney Fish said rumors are flying that the county will receive a landfall of funds, which is untrue.

Rodney Fish

“I just want to clarify that a lot of numbers are floating around on the amount the county will receive,” said Fish. “It’s not like the large sum of money many expect.”

Joe Diebert, with the Domestic Violence Coalition, would like a portion of the funds to help hire advocates for domestic violence victims.

Joe Diebert

“We have fallen short in this assistance area,” Diebert added. “We need staff available 24/7. Not just from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. I will not go away on this issue. I’d like to see how we can make this work.”

John Keesler with Families Forever also requested $85,000 of the funds.

Families Forever is a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of residents in Lawrence County and the broader Southern Indiana community. Their mission is to promote health and well-being, focusing on individuals and families struggling with addiction, recovery, and support.

John Keesler

He would like to use the money for mental health treatment, case management to help those achieve and maintain sobriety and a mentoring program for Bedford North Lawrence High School students.

Lawrence County Sheriff Greg Day would like a portion of the funds to increase mental health services at the jail from one day to three days a week.

Sheriff Greg Day

“Two-thirds of the inmates are suffering from mental health issues due to opioid substance use,” added Sheriff Day. “The cost to extend the mental health service for one day to two days is $17,056 and for two days to three days is $32,500.”

The commissioners requested each to write up a plan for auditing purposes and submit it for consideration.