In anticipation of receiving tens of millions of dollars in settlement funds from national opioid litigation, Bucks County recently created an advisory committee to determine how best to distribute the money, the county announced.
The first installment of the approximately $44 million, disbursed over 18 years, is expected next month. All the money must be used to address the opioid epidemic, according to terms of the agreement.
Bob Harvie, chairperson of the Bucks County commissioners, selected the committee members from across the county. With expertise in human services, substance abuse prevention and public safety, as well as experience working with special groups, such as veterans, the panel is expected to guide the chairman on “proven, effective and targeted” solutions, emphasizing recovery and prevention. The seven-member committee will be responsible for reviewing and recommending applications for funding.
“The opioid epidemic, which has affected so many lives in our county and our country is not over, and the process of holding accountable the people and companies responsible for unleashing this man-made plague is not over either,” said Harvie, in a statement. “The settlement agreed upon by almost half of the states in this nation will help Bucks County address the epidemic in our communities,” he said.
Bucks joined many other municipalities in a lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. Earlier this year, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro negotiated a $1 billion settlement with three distributors – AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson – and one manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson.
The committee members are: chairperson, Diane Rosati, executive director of Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission; Rachael Neff, director of Bucks County’s human services; Timothy Wynn, Bucks County’s director of veterans affairs; Alana Hardison, prevention specialist, No Longer Bound; Ryan Schweiger, community outreach specialist, Penn Foundation; William McVey, director of public safety, Bensalem Township, and Micki Kaisinger, founder, Emilie House.