Bello proposes trust fund for Monroe County’s share of opioid settlement

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced Monday that he will create a trust fund to guarantee that tens of millions of dollars in opioid settlement funds due to the county are spent to prevent addiction and fight against the opioid crisis.

The decision comes after an agreement was reached with opioid manufacturers and distributors by state Attorney General Letitia James.

Bello submitted a resolution to the Monroe County Legislature asking legislators to approve the settlements and create key protections that govern how the money is spent.

“The opioid crisis continues to take a daily toll on our community, as death and overdose numbers released by our Medical Examiner last month sadly show,” said County Executive Bello. “Getting people the important help and support they need to fight addiction has been a cornerstone of my administration, and is why I established the Improving Addiction Coordination Team (IMPACT) last year. These settlement funds were awarded to Monroe County to support our unprecedented effort to combat the opioid crisis and it is our responsibility use these vital dollars to boost our focus on treating and preventing addiction.”

In June, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $230 million to New York state to settle claims that the pharmaceutical giant helped fuel the opioid crisis.

This month, a federal bankruptcy judge gave conditional approval Wednesday to a sweeping settlement that will remove the Sackler family from ownership of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and devote potentially $10 billion to fighting the opioid crisis that has killed a half-million Americans over the past two decades.

If it withstands appeals, the deal will resolve a mountain of 3,000 lawsuits from state and local governments, Native American tribes, unions, and others that accuse the company of helping to spark the overdose epidemic by aggressively marketing the prescription painkiller.

Bello says over an 18-year period, Monroe County will receive tens of millions of dollars in recovery funds.

The legislature will consider the County Executive’s proposal during its meeting on Sept. 14.