You won’t find any white flags being raised in Columbus in the fight to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the ongoing opioid crisis.
If anything, the city’s most recent decision shows it plans to stay on the offensive.
Last week, Columbus joined several Hoosier cities in backing out of potential payments for several lawsuits filed by the state attorney general’s office against opioid manufacturers and distributors.
The city decided to remove itself from the state’s litigation because of a law that has passed which will consolidate the litigation that local governments have filed and fold it into the case filed by the attorney general.
Under the law, the state will divide 15% of its settlement fund between participating cities, counties and towns on a per capita basis, another 15% will go to the state, and 70% will "be used for statewide treatment, education, and prevention programs for opioid use disorder and any co-occurring substance use disorder or mental health issues as defined or required by the settlement documents or court order."
By opting out, Columbus will be able to keep 100% of the funds coming in from its own case. However, it would also mean that the city will be responsible for its own legal expenses if they arise.
While opioids have impacted the entire state, each city and county has been impacted differently and should be compensated as such.
As we’ve documented over the past few years, Bartholomew County has been hit hard by the crisis.
Millions of dollars have been spent on treatment facilities and recovery programs, and will continue to be needed since COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem.
Should any developments make significant changes to the attorney general’s case, Columbus will have the option to opt back in in the coming months. The city can opt back in after 60 days or before Sept. 30, whichever comes first.
No amount of money will make up for the harm caused by the opioid crisis, but it can help in the community’s recovery process.