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In a special session today, City Council unanimously approved an emergency bill to authorize the City Manager, or his designee, to execute the settlement participation forms from the National Opioids Settlement administrator for the purpose of enlisting the City as a participating subdivision in the distributor settlement and the Janssen settlement of national opioid litigation.
Opioids, which include heroin but also painkillers such as morphine and hydrocodone, affect the part of the brain that controls breathing. An overdose can lead to respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest. Opioid dependency in the United States has triggered a national crisis. In response to the crisis, states, and local governments, including the City of Springfield, filed litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Over 3,000 of these cases were combined in the opioid multi-district litigation to streamline procedural issues of similar cases prior to trial. On July 21, the plaintiffs' executive committee in the multi-district opioid litigation announced the terms of a global settlement agreement with opioid manufacturers Janssen and several drug distributors.
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The settlement is structured so that states must first choose to participate, then political subdivisions within participating states must choose whether to participate. If an insufficient number of states and political subdivisions choose to participate, the settlement agreement will collapse.
The settlement is structured so that states receive more settlement funds if a higher percentage of their political subdivisions agree to participate, and political subdivisions receive incentive settlement funds if they agree to participate by Jan. 2, 2022. Additionally, states may adjust the allocation to political subdivisions by statute or allocation agreements. The state of Missouri has chosen to participate in the global settlement agreement. However, the state of Missouri did not provide allocation terms or draft agreements for political subdivisions for much of the 120-day period during which political subdivisions had to consider whether to participate.
As of Dec. 17, allocation information is unavailable on the Missouri attorney general's website regarding the National Opioids Settlement, and state-specific documents for Missouri have not been submitted on the National Opioids Settlement website. Although insufficient information has been provided to political subdivisions in Missouri regarding their allocation by the state, the City has been advised by outside legal counsel to preserve its right to incentive settlement funds that would help combat the opioid epidemic in our community, and therefore elect, upon advice of outside legal counsel, to proceed with participation agreement approval prior to the Jan. 2, 2022 deadline.
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The amount of funds the City would receive is dependent on the participation levels of other political subdivisions, and the allocation amount determined by the state of Missouri.
While opioid abuse has long been a problem in the Ozarks, during a two-week span in October 2019, Springfield experienced 40 opioid overdoses, including four deaths. The spike totaled about 70 for the entire month.
The opioid problem in Springfield does not hold to a pattern, according to Fire Chief David Pennington. Calls to respond to overdoses come in at all times of the day and night from all parts of the city, across all socioeconomic levels. During that two weeks in 2019, The Fire Department pulled together a multi-departmental, multi-agency work group to continue monitoring and responding.
For more information, please contact Melissa Haase at 417-536-7648 or [email protected].
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