Wisconsin DHS shares plan on how to use $8M from opioid settlement funds

(Ben Torres for The Texas Tribune)
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 4:02 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has submitted its plan to use nearly $8 million in opioid settlement funds to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance to support prevention, harm reduction, and capital projects to address the state’s opioid crisis.

The money is part of the $400 million the state receives in annual installments through an agreement with major pharmaceutical firms. $130 million of the total amount goes to the state, while the remainder is provided to counties and municipalities.

Paul Krupski, DHS Director of Opioid Initiatives said the FDA’s approval of Narcan without a prescription will not affect their plans.

“That was really exciting to see and something that we are very supportive of. And happy that the Federal Government has gone this route. But really, what this does is it just creates another avenue for individuals to access Narcan as easy as possible,” said Krupski.

Krupski further explained that there would be a cost associated with Narcan in stores. He said DHS’ plans would increase availability through the Narcan Direct program.

Priorities include:

  • Increasing the availability of Narcan and fentanyl test strips statewide via existing DHS programs ($4 million).
    $1.5 million to maintain the availability of Narcan® statewide via the DHS Narcan® Direct Program through community provider agencies.
    $500,000 to maintain a statewide distribution of fentanyl test strips via the DHS fentanyl test strip direct program through community providers.
    $1 million to sustain the EMS Leave Behind Program providing EMS agencies with Narcan® and fentanyl test strips.
    $750,000 to sustain the DHS Law Enforcement Narcan Direct Program
    $250,000 to sustain providing fentanyl test strips to law enforcement agencies participating in the DHS Law Enforcement Narcan® Direct program.
  • One-time capital projects ($3 million)
    Capital projects to expand prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and/or recovery services statewide.
  • Prevention ($1 million)
    Implementation of K-12 evidence-based substance use prevention programming.

In 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced final approval of an agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors (Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen) and Johnson & Johnson. Payments from the distributors will continue for 18 years. Payments from Johnson & Johnson will continue for nine years.

This year, Wisconsin will receive two payments from these settlements. The first payment of $617,290 from Johnson and Johnson is expected to arrive in mid-June. The second payment of $7,371,693 from the distributors is expected on July 30.