FDA-approved drugs used in combi- nation with counseling to treat opioid use disorders. “I don’t know if [the policy] was well understood by providers, and that led to lapses in our treatment,” Varisco said. Some barriers for treatment go beyond drug-related issues. Varisco said that the lack of accessible public transportation in Texas increased dif- ficulty for lower-income patients. “If you’re prescribed for buprenor- phine or methadone, or whatever, you have to take a bus across the city [of Houston] to get the prescription,” Varisco said. “Proximity to care is just not there.” Government solutions State and county entities are work- ing to address the opioid epidemic and the effects the pandemic had on recovery through local funding, law enforcement resources and increased education surrounding opioidmisuse. Many officials agree the use of Narcan is something that should be encouraged and used by emergency agencies. “We do train lots of different people how to recognize an opioid overdose,” Trevino said. “We’re training peo- ple to use Narcan, and we’re supply- ing them with Narcan. We’re big, big advocates of Narcan.” Statewide, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Feb. 16 that the state had secured a $1.17 billion settlement with three major phar- maceutical companies: Amerisource- Bergen, McKesson and Cardinal. According to the attorney general, Texas has secured $1.89 billion to date from opioid settlements. Paxton’s office has also reached out to local governments, encourag- ing them to sign onto existing settle- ments to receive funds. According to the attorney general’s website, 482 Texas municipalities signed onto two settlements with Janssen—owned by Johnson & Johnson—and with Amer- isourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. According to documents from the attorney general’s office, the cities of Houston and League City, as well as Harris and Galveston counties, are all expected to receive settlement funding. Houston is set to receive $7 million; League City will receive $302,418; Harris County will receive almost $15 million; and Galveston County will receive $1.1 million. A list of funding uses provided by the attorney general’s office includes
State funding and educational resources were implemented to curb opioid addiction and overdoses.
SETTLEMENTS TO ROLL OUT Harris County: $15M
Galveston County: $1.12M
League City: $302,418
SETTLEMENT FUNDING USES
Local cities are expected to receive funds from state settlements with opioid manufacturers to be used for various purposes:
Community drug disposal programs
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Expanded telehealth to increase access to treatment Youth-focused education programs
Fellowships for addiction medicine specialists
First responder and law enforcement training expansion
FIND HELP: Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 800-662-4357 , or visit www.samhsa. gov for resources and treatment.
SOURCE: TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
community drug disposal programs, training for first responders and youth-focused programs that discour- age or prevent misuse. McColgin encouraged people to disregard any previous notions they might have about opioids. “This idea that it’s only heroin addicts and hardcore drug addicts that are overdosing on this stuff has to be completely eliminated, or else we miss the most vulnerable people,” he said.
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