State receives award for incorporating ‘The Principles for the Use of Funds from the Opioid Litigation’

NORWALK, CT — The Award for Excellence in the Application of The Principles for the Use of Funds from the Opioid Litigation was presented today to the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority (OAA). The award recognizes jurisdictions that demonstrate distinction in incorporating the opioid litigation principles as part of their thoughtful, strategic approach to the use of the national opioid settlement funds. Funds from litigation settlements filed against drug manufacturers, pharmaceutical distributors and pharmacies direct billions of dollars to states and localities to combat the opioid overdose crisis.  

The Principles were created as a guide to help jurisdictions determine how to spend the Opioid Settlement Funds and save the most lives. They were designated by a coalition of organizations committed to helping policymakers use opioid settlement funds effectively and equitably. Organizations that contributed to creating the Principles include Shatterproof, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending the addiction crisis, and faculty and staff from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who have supported implementation. The Principles have been endorsed by more than 60 organizations.

The Principles provide planning and process-level guidance for state and local policymakers on how to effectively spend money from the opioid settlements, and include the following:

  1. Spend Settlement Money to Save Lives
  2. Use Evidence to Guide Spending
  3. Invest in Youth Prevention
  4. Focus on Racial Equity
  5. Develop a Fair and Transparent Process for Deciding Where to Spend the Funding

The Awards for Excellence were launched in the first quarter of 2023. Previous winners include Rock County, WI, states of Colorado, Rhode Island, and North Carolina.

OAA’s Approach to Incorporating the Principles

The Commonwealth of Virginia and its local jurisdictions signed a Memorandum of Agreement that created the Virginia Opioid Abatement Fund and the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority (OAA) to oversee settlement funds and ensure settlement spending meets their outlined Gold Standard. This Gold Standard ensures dollars are used toward abatement and saving lives (Principle 1), requires the use of data and evidence to guide decisions (Principle 2), prioritizes prevention (Principle 3), focuses on criminal justice diversion (Principle 4), and requires full public disclosure (Principle 5).

OAA developed three initiatives to assist localities across the state with implementing the Principles. First, the Authority created a voluntary incentive to cities and counties that agreed to meet the OAA’s Gold Standard in the use of opioid settlement funds. Cities and counties that commit to only use their funds for abatement purposes are eligible to receive 25% additional abatement funding from the Authority. Secondly, the Authority requires all grant applicants to commit to providing performance measures related to their use of the funds. Those measures are similar to measures used by Virginia's Medicaid agency; this allows analysis statewide of how effectively the grant funds are being used toward the opioid crisis from an outcome standpoint. Finally, the Authority launched an "Abatement Academy" that targets local government leaders to promote awareness of the five Principles and to provide best practice examples under each principle. The 2023 Academy consists of twice monthly live webinars with various presenters, offered free to participants.

“Virginia didn’t ask to be at the epicenter of the opioid crisis, but we were,” said Senator Todd Pillion, chairman of the OAA Board of Directors. “Now we are committed to be a national leader in bringing the crisis to an end. We are grateful to receive this award from Johns Hopkins and the Principles Coalition because it recognizes the substantial efforts Virginia has made to save lives, restore families, and help communities heal.”

Additionally, OAA actively worked to encourage information sharing between jurisdictions about best practices through the Abatement Academy. As of June 2023, the Abatement Authority’s Board of Directors has awarded nearly $23 million to 76 cities/counties and another $11 million to state agencies.

"The achievements of the Commonwealth of Virginia in utilizing funds from the opioid settlements and focusing on evidence, equity and transparency are commendable,” said Kristen Pendergrass, vice president of state policy for Shatterproof, an endorser of the Principles. “Their adherence to the Principles is a testament to their commitment to evidence-based solutions that prioritize the health and well-being of their communities."
 

Additional details about the announcement can be found at:

https://opioidprinciples.jhsph.edu/quarter-2-award-winners/ 

Additional details about the award given to the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority can be found at https://opioidprinciples.jhsph.edu/updates/  

Awards for state and local entities that apply the Principles in exemplary and innovative ways are awarded quarterly. The next deadline for nominations is Thursday, November 30, 2023. Questions about the Principles can be directed to opiodprinciples@jh.edu. More information can also be found on X: @OpLitPrinciples 

ABOUT THE AWARDS:

The awards were established by a coalition of more than 60 organizations and individuals across the substance use field who work in partnership to provide updates on the litigation, related legislation, and state and local implementation strategies. These organizations and individuals include physicians, addiction medicine specialists, and recovery, treatment, and harm reduction providers. The award recipients were selected by a number of the Principles’ endorsing organizations, including representatives from Bloomberg School, Shatterproof, Yale Program of Addiction Medicine, the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, and Partnership to End Addiction.

ABOUT THE VIRGINIA OPIOID ABATEMENT AUTHORITY (OAA):

The OAA was established by the General Assembly in 2021 to oversee the distribution of 55% of Virginia’s total settlement funds. Of the remainder, 30% is distributed directly to cities and counties and 15% to the Commonwealth. The use of funds is restricted by court orders and state statute, with the restrictions aiming for the funds to be used for opioid abatement efforts.  Since the OAA began operating in 2022, it has awarded $23 million to 76 cities and counties, and $11 million to state agencies for efforts to abate and remediate the opioid crisis.

For more information contact info@voaa.us

CONTACT:
Lauren Lawson-Zilai
Shatterproof Public Relations

press@shatterproof.org