Opioid settlement advisory board discusses next round of funding
ALBANY, NY (Erie News Now)--This week the state's opioid settlement advisory board met to discuss their recommendations for the continued allocations of the state's settlement money.
The opioid settlement fund, between the state and companies involved in manufacturing, selling, and distributing opioids, currently totals $2.6 billion dollars. In this year's budget $42 million was distributed and next year's budget is projected to distribute $167 million.
Some advocates said they are frustrated with inequitable access to treatment. .
“Others have had the patience for incremental change. The families left behind from the piling death toll have none left,” Alexis Pleus, Executive Director of Truth Pharm, a non-profit harm reduction organization.
Pleus added most clients at Truth Pharm struggle to access resources from state agencies.
“Most of our clients at Truth Pharm are unhoused, can’t obtain social services, desperately need or needed mental health services for years and have been booted from treatment multiple times or can’t access it,” she said.
The advisory board's recommendations go into an annual report identifying priority areas such as harm reduction, treatment, housing, and transportation.
Some New York State lawmakers feel that overdoses prevention centers (OPC) should be a priority. Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-33rd Senate District) emphasize the operational overdose prevention center's have saved nearly a thousand lives.
“The reason why OPC’s are effective is not because they have a room where drug-use occurs under medical supervision,” Sen. Rivera said. “It is the wrap-around services that provide assistance and treatment to folks in a non-stigmatized location."
The next advisory board meeting is scheduled for Sep. 8.