Commissioners vote to distribute opioid settlement funds

BEDFORD – Several organizations requested a share of the county’s opioid grant money, and some requests were honored during Tuesday mornings at Lawrence County’s Commissioners meeting.

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.

Left to Right: Auditor Paula Stewart, Commissioner Dustin Gabhart, President Wally Branham, Vice President Rodney Fish, County Attorney David Smith.

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 that 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 70% heading to the Indiana Family Social Services Administration. 

Lawrence County received $411,826.51.

Rodney Fish

“We worked diligently on utilizing these funds and how it would affect and benefit the most people,” added Commissioner Rodney Fish.

Commissioners agreed to distribute $243,290 upon County Council approval.

“That still leaves a considerable amount of money,” said Fish. “If we do not distribute those funds this year we will carry them over to distribute next year.”