FILE - Opioids OxyContin

(The Center Square) – Maricopa County signed a national opioid settlement with manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids.

According to a news release from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the agreement is expected to bring approximately $80 million in relief money to county residents, as well as approximately $580 million dollars to the state of Arizona, 

“The impact of this epidemic [is] staggering,” Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel said in a Wednesday news briefing. “It is cruel and it is deadly, and it doesn’t care about your race or gender or socio-economic standing. And while throwing money at an issue does not solve it, it will get us closer.” 

Maricopa County is the first county government in Arizona to sign the agreement. County officials said because the funds are restricted, they will be directly allocated to relief and resources related to opioids.

The money will be used for opioid use disorder prevention and recovery and to support government and nonprofit organizations working for opioid prevention, Adel said. 

“I am especially proud that unlike the tobacco settlements in the 1990’s, which allowed government agencies to spend funding without restrictions, this agreement locks the funding in place,” she said. “And, while today is just the first step of many, it is the beginning of a journey that will bring much needed relief and resources.”

The MCAO released a 48-page memorandum entitled the “One Arizona Distribution of Opioid Settlement Funds Agreement” after its Wednesday approval by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. 

The settlement agreement was with opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, the “Big Three” drug distributors.

Since 2017, the Arizona Department of Health Services has reported almost 11,000 opioid overdose deaths of Arizonans, the news release said.