City of Chicago Announces New Initiatives to Combat the Opioid Epidemic Using Funds from Settlements with Pharmaceutical Companies
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CHICAGO ~ The City of Chicago is taking steps to address the ongoing opioid epidemic with funding from settlements with three of the largest pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and its parent company Johnson & Johnson. Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today that the City will implement new initiatives to address the opioid crisis using these funds.

The Illinois Remediation Fund will receive 55% of the settlement proceeds, estimated at $437M over eighteen years, and will be administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) for programs and purposes that address the opioid crisis throughout Illinois. The remaining 45% of the settlement proceeds will be distributed among the state, counties, municipalities, and townships. The Illinois Attorney General's Office estimates that Chicago will receive approximately $78M over eighteen years.

Mayor Lightfoot stated "This funding presents an important opportunity to address a public health issue that continues to plague communities across Chicago and especially those on our South and West Sides." CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D., added "Opioid overdose is not a moral failing, rather a medical problem that is treatable and largely preventable."

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With this new funding, CDPH plans to develop and expand programs in low-barrier harm reduction access; linkage to care and treatment for substance use disorder; long-term supports for people in recovery; public safety partnerships with Chicago Police and Fire Departments; education, communication, & outreach; as well as expanded data analysis, epidemiology & geographic analytics.

Provisional data from Cook County Medical Examiner's Office shows 1,428 opioid-related overdose fatalities occurred in Chicago in 2021 - higher than traffic crash fatalities or homicides combined - making it the highest number ever recorded. Final data for 2022 is pending but numbers are expected to be similar. Opioid overdose is one of the primary drivers of a 10-year life expectancy gap between Black and white Chicagoans.

CDPH has several efforts underway to address this crisis including a partnership with state to make medication available via telephone hotline; distribution of harm reduction kits in all local libraries; installation of harm reduction vending machines in 5 locations throughout city; launch of an opioid response team as part of CARE 911 alternative response program; as well as OvercomeOpioids website which provides information about substance use services.

The City hopes these initiatives will help reduce stigma related to substance use disorders while providing treatment options for those affected by this epidemic.

Filed Under: Government, City

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