Harlan City Council discusses opioid settlement

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, July 19, 2022

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During their regular July meeting, the Harlan City Council discussed possible uses for funds the city will receive from legal actions concerning the impact opioids have had on the area.

Mayor Joe Meadors brought up the status of the opioid settlement funds and a related request the city received from Harlan ARH Hospital to the council.

“There were two different settlements,” Meadors said. “The first one was against Johnson & Johnson, and the second one was AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson.”

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Meadors advised the city will receive approximately $59,747 over 18 years from the Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson action.

“That’s not a lot of money,” Meadors said. “It’s not going to hurt them too bad. So, you split that up over 18 years, and that’s not even $3,500 a year that we’ll get.”

Meadors also went over the Johnson & Johnson settlement.

“Johnson & Johnson will be split over nine years, and it’s $13,810,” Meadors said. “So, we’re only get about $73,000 total.”

Meadors explained the guidelines are not available yet on exactly how the money can be spent. However, it will be related to drug abuse and drug education.

“That comes in with this letter from ARH,” Meadors said. “I’m interested in how you all view that…if we’re going to give it to anybody, I think we’ve got to look at them.”

Meadors mentioned other places could also use the funds.

“You all need to think about how much you want to give and when you want to give it,” Meadors said.

Council members Jeff Phillips and Jeanne Lee asked for clarification concerning the request from Harlan ARH Hospital.

“They do have the psych. unit out there,” Meadors said. 

Meadors explained with many drug arrests that, the suspects are taken to the psychiatric unit at the hospital.

“I don’t know what we can do with this little bit of opioid settlement money that we’re going to get,” Meadors said. “But I want you all to be thinking about what we can do with it for the community.”

Lee asked if the council was considering allocating funds to Harlan ARH Hospital.

“That would sure fit into what they do,” Meadors said. “I don’t know what we can do as far as community education.”

Meadors emphasized that the opioid settlement money must be spent on items connected to drug abatement, education, and treatment. He asked the council to think about ways to utilize the opioid settlement funds so they can make a decision shortly.