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Summit County Welcomes Pharmaceutical Settlement to Fight Ongoing Opioid Emergency

Summit County is slated to receive 38% of the settlement dollars as the money was split between Summit and Cuyahoga based on population size.
Summit County is slated to receive 38% of the settlement dollars as the money was split between Summit and Cuyahoga based on population size.

Summit County will receive 38% percent of the cash settlement pharmaceutical companies reached with Summit and Cuyahoga Counties. The percentage is based on population. The bulk of the money will come from a deal with AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson Corp. Generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical has agreed to pay $20 million and provide $25 million dollars worth of products to the two counties.  

County executive Ilene Shapiro is creating an advisory task force to determine how that money will be spent.

Her assistant chief of staff, Greta Johnson, says while the settlement marks a milestone the opioid emergency remains.

“It’s not over. We have an entire population who are living with addiction, and as far as I’m concerned we’re just getting started,” Johnson said. 

The opioid emergency continues. Johnson says there were nine opioid related overdose incidents last weekend and fatalities continue to occur because the drugs are laced with powerful synthetics.

“Without the pharmaceutical industry creating the opening for fentanyl and carfentanil to come into our community with 40 million pills they shipped into Summit County in 2012, we don’t have fentanyl and carfentanil. The reason we have those drugs in our community is because the space was created by the pharmaceutical industry with that influx of pills,” Johnson said.

Reaching a settlement, means money to help those affected by the addiction crisis will be available sooner. “These dollars are going to be able to help people quickly,” Johnson said.

The county plans to focus the settlement resources in four areas: treatment, harm reduction, system coordination and prevention and education.

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Joseph Ciccolini is an intern at WKSU for Fall 2019. He is set to graduate in December, 2019 with a degree in broadcast journalism. After graduation he wants to pursue a career in sports radio. He is passionate about the Cleveland Cavaliers, Browns and Indians. In his free time he likes to watch sporting events and movies, with Star Wars being his favorite.
A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.