State health officer Dr. Matthew Christiansen joins opioid settlement committee.
The severity of the opioid crisis needs no introduction. It seems that each new day brings another negative story about the scope of the crisis and just how many people have been impacted so far. While it would be nice to feel a sense of optimism about where this crisis is going moving forward, such optimism can be hard to come by. One indication of the size of this issue is the amount of money that has been made available through settlements. Just in the state of West Virginia alone, there is over $1 billion in settlement money that needs to be distributed. To make those distributions happen, a board has been created including members of the public health community who will determine how to best allocate the funds to help the state as a whole and those most likely to be impacted by the opioid crisis.
The individual tasked with joining the board for the distribution of the settlement funds in West Virginia is Dr. Matthew Christiansen. With a long history in a variety of notable roles, Dr. Christiansen comes to this responsibility with the credentials needed to make sound decisions based on the facts available. In the past, he has served as the director of the state Department of Health.
Not only has Dr. Christiansen been added to the board, but he has specifically been designated to deal with a part of West Virginia that has been hit hard by the opioid crisis. The goal with the money that is available from various settlements is to use it in a way that gets to people early in the cycle of opioid addiction – rather than later on when it may be too late to get them the help they need.
There is so much money available due to legal action that has been taken in West Virginia and various other states over responsibility for the opioid crisis. Different pharmacy companies, drug manufacturers, and other businesses related to this market have been held responsible and made to pay in a significant way for the harm they have helped cause. For example, big-name brands like Kroger, CVS, and Walmart have all agreed to settlements, among others.
The importance of making a big impact with these available dollars is not lost on those in charge of allocating the funds. For West Virginia, as in other states, this influx of settlement money represents a great chance to make a notable impact on the opioid crisis and set hard-hit communities on a better track for the future.
While the use of settlement money to address opioid issues in states like West Virginia is a good start, the better news will be when there is no settlement money to manage because the crisis has faded, and people are no longer having their lives ruined by opioids. Until that day, however, it will continue to be necessary for officials like Dr. Christiansen to help put the available funds to proper use.