Starting with the multiple guilty pleas from Purdue Pharma in 2020, thousands of lawsuits across the country have lead to a series of settlements from numerous pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their role in the opioid crisis. From just the first and second wave of settlements with Cardinal Health, Janssen, AmerisourceBergen, CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, and several others, Tennessee is expecting to see a little over a billion dollars over the next 18 years.
My guest this month is Dr. Jennifer Tourville, executive director of the SMART Initiative. A fairly significant portion of our work lately has revolved around these settlements, and assisting the leadership of Tennessee’s cities and counties in understanding when and where these payments are coming from, what they can be spent on, and what reporting requirements there are.
Tennessee is actually rather unique in how it has decided to spend these funds. Unlike most of the other states, who have planned to distribute most of the money directly to counties, Tennessee has elected to open up a large amount of these funds to private entities, who can apply for grants. This means nonprofits, prevention coalitions, clinics, researchers, and many other groups will have a chance at getting new projects funded, or expanding their existing services without having to appeal to local government. Though of course, with a decent amount of money still going directly to Tennessee counties, they can try this route as well.
So it’s a lot to consider, and it can be confusing. We hope this episode can serve as an introductory guide to local stakeholders in both the private or public sectors, shedding some light on one of the most important public health opportunities in our lifetimes.
Hosted and produced by Jeremy Kourvelas. Original music by Blind House.
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