BEAUMONT, Texas — Funds from a settlement between the Texas Attorney General and three pharmaceutical companies are set to increase the amount of drug addiction treatment, prevention, and education in Southeast Texas.
A total of $1.2 billion will be dispersed among different counties throughout the state of Texas. This is due to a statewide settlement between Texas Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton and three pharmaceutical companies; Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen.
Paxton’s office led the lawsuit, and Texas counties were invited to sign on if they believed they were affected by the opioid crisis.
Paxton released a statement saying in part, "We're encouraged by this support of local governments and committed to doing everything in our power to get the full share of funds for the people of our states, so we can help people get treatment and recovery resources as quickly as possible."
City officials plan to use the funds to help those recovering from drug addiction. While it is unclear how the money will be dispersed, officials do know how much of the settlement the city will receive.
“Contributions from those individuals could be upwards of $800,000,” Sharae Reed, Beaumont city attorney, said.
The settlement money comes with spending conditions. Funds are required to go towards prevention, treatment, and education of opioid addiction.
“Most of them involve treatment plans, expanding treatment for individuals who are suffering from opioid addiction,” Reed said.
Area treatment centers are hoping to receive a portion of the funds.
“Of course, we have our hopes that it's going to help the treatment providers, but it remains to be seen, what's actually going to be, where the money is going to actually go," Kim Arrington, clinical director at Woodlands Recovery Center, said. "So, we don't really know what kind of effect it's going to have yet”
Addiction treatment centers like the Woodlands Recovery Center have seen a decline in the number of patients that have come to receive help for opioid addictions within the past few years. However, center officials said they will take all the help they can get.
Center officials believe the funds will help expand the center’s impact. If the Woodlands Recovery Center makes the cut, officials already know how they will use the money.
“Most likely what we would do with it is provide free treatment to people that need to have treatment around opioid disorders,” Arrington said. “People that are addicted to opiates that want to get off and maybe haven't been able to find treatment due to costing too much, or they're not being in bed, or insurance deductibles being too high or something like that."
Experts said concerning the settlement funds, there are a great deal of details to be figured out. However, they believe the settlement itself is a step in the right direction to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable.