City of Bryan set to receive first payment from nationwide opioid settlement

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 9:38 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) -Tuesday, the Bryan City Council met to discuss the acceptance of $232,661.37 from opioid settlements.

These settlements are part of the Lone Star State’s ongoing efforts to address the opioid crisis.

In January, Attorney General Ken Paxton revealed that Texas had joined finalized opioid agreements with CVS and Walgreens, which amounted to $10.7 billion nationwide. CVS and Walgreens agreed to pay $5 billion and $5.7 billion, respectively. As a result, Texas and local governments will receive more than $304 million from CVS and $340 million from Walgreens. The settlement funds resulting from attorneys general investigations and litigation against the pharmaceutical industry for its involvement in the opioid crisis now exceed $50 billion.

“Every single day, Americans from all backgrounds are suffering from opioid addiction and its destructive consequences,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The tragic and infuriating reality is that this epidemic has not happened by accident. There are companies that have played a role in worsening, and in many cases causing opioid addiction. They must be held responsible, and CVS and Walgreens are no exception.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Bryan City Council voted to allow the city manager to execute the necessary documents to participate in the acceptance of money as part of Texas’ settlement of national opioid lawsuits relating to Allergan, CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart.

“It’s a problem that virtually every city has to deal with in some way or another and so, we see this as an opportunity for us to get some funding so that we can use it certainly for treatment, probably more importantly, even for education,” Says Hugh Walker, City of Bryan Deputy City Manager.

Although it is uncertain how the funds will be used at the local level, city staff say that guidelines are established to guarantee their optimal usage.

“There are several different ways that we can use it but most importantly, it has to address prevention, education, treatment, How that’s defined is yet to really be fully determined,’ says Walker.

In addition to providing financial assistance to cities and counties, the state has established the Opioid Abatement Trust Fund which will support allocations to hospital districts and award grants to other organizations addressing issues related to opioids.

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of opioid overdose deaths across the country increased significantly, from 21,089 in 2010 to 68,630 in 2020, and further rose to 80,411 in 2021. In 2021, there were a total of 109,699 overdose deaths related to any type of drug.

“There are three main sources to the opioid-overdose crisis,” said Dr. C.M. Schade, MD, a member of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) and former president of the Texas Pain Society (TPS). “Recreational use of street drugs, unintended misuse of drugs by patients who are suffering severe or chronic pain, and drug addiction.”

Last year, Dr. Schade appeared before the Texas House Committee on Public Health and provided testimony regarding the destructive consequences of unlawfully produced fentanyl. Additionally, Dr. Schade proposed potential solutions to address this issue.

“The ‘opioid crisis’ is no longer just about prescription opioids,” said Dr. Schade. He told lawmakers it is time to revise regulatory efforts to address opioid abuse”.

He told lawmakers it is time to revise the existing laws so that doctors will not be afraid to prescribe opioids when medically necessary.

Specifically: 1) Sunset/Repeal the registration of pain management clinics.  #2 Change the law that requires mandatory checking of the prescription monitoring program (PMP) to should check the PMP before prescribing.

In addition to legislation, Dr. Schade believes that education and raising awareness of the dangers of unlawful prescription opioids play a critical role in addressing the issue, particularly in regard to counterfeit pills. According to the DEA, laboratory tests have shown that 60% of counterfeit prescription pills laced with fentanyl now contain a dose that could be deadly.

“This is a public awareness problem. People don’t know what they don’t know and that’s why they’re dying,” says Dr. Schade.

“Now the rainbow pills, candy pills that are being pushed down as low as middle school and elementary that needs to get out there. You can’t even eat candy now it’s not even safe if somebody gives it to you,” says Dr. Schade.

Settlement Agreement Records and Related Documents