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Opioid settlement to fund drug abuse treatment and prevention in Neb.

Posted at 7:03 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 20:03:51-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Millions of dollars are on the way to Nebraska to help those affected by the opioid crisis.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson recognizes that opioid addiction is an issue in our state that needs to be addressed. He recently joined 53 other Attorneys General from across the United States and its territories. Together, they took part in a multi-million dollar settlement with McKinsey and Company for its role in the opioid crisis with Purdue Pharma.

"Unlike maybe meth, that went to certain communities, this drug was distributed across all economic lines and communities,” said Peterson. “The addiction is, you know, across the board. That's why it will be important for us to get the word out for possible treatment."

This is the first multi-state opioid settlement and Nebraska will receive its first payment of more than $2 million within the next 60 days.

"It could help a lot of people not die." said Sheila Kennedy, program director at Omaha Treatment Center. "It will actually help people get into treatment, to afford the treatment...treatment can be expensive.”

"I know that, right now, we are seeing higher numbers…especially with what is going on with the pandemic and everything,” said counselor Theresa Koehler. “It's a lot more serious than people let on."

Doctors are no longer prescribing opioids as often, which is a start to combat the issue. But, for those who are already addicted, it's causing them to head to the streets to find what they crave.

"Because of the fentanyl, you don't know what you are getting. Like, the ones that you get from the doctor are made in a lab and controlled by scientists,” said counselor Leann Stevenson. “The ones that are pressed are made in somebody's basement or wherever...you don't know what's in there. Just one pill can end everything."

The settlement money will go into the Nebraska opioid recovery fund which will not only help with treatment. It will also fund drug abuse prevention and law enforcement efforts. People might wonder, if addicts are able to afford drugs, why can't they afford treatment?

"Drug dealers take more than money,” said Stevenson. “Drug dealers take a lot of different things, so it's easier for them to commit crimes to pay for their drugs or whatever they do...than to pay for treatment.”

Peterson is still in the process of wrapping up settlements with other manufacturers and distributors of opioids. The funds from those settlements will also go into Nebraska's opioid recovery fund which will hopefully be an end to the opioid epidemic.

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