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Commissioners Prepare For Opioid Settlement Money

By MARK EVANS

STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD

When attorney Jack Garvey, then with Carey, Danis & Low, approached the Ste. Genevieve County Commission in August 2018 about joining a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and 46 other entities for their parts in bringing about the current opioid crisis, Garry Nelson wasn’t optimistic.

“When Jack Garvey first came, I figured we had nothing to lose, but probably nothing to gain, either,” the outgoing presiding commissioner admitted last Thursday.

The reason for the reflection on that earlier meeting was the news that the county’s first payment from the lawsuit, some $21,000, would be arriving soon.

Nelson was happy to admit he had been wrong on that count.

The Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, manufacturers of OxyContin, agreed to pay $6 billion in the settlement. According to Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, $274,800,000 is going to the state of Missouri itself, and $183,200,000 going to localities within Missouri, over an 18-year period.

The payments will be on a graduated scale that pays larger sums in early years and decreases over time.

However much Ste. Genevieve County collects over the 18 years, the commissioners are determined to make sure it all goes to fighting drug addiction and helping those who have fallen victim to it.

At the commission’s suggestion, Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH) leadership has put together a coalition to find proper uses for the money.

“Over a period of years, that’s going to be a lot of money,” Nelson said. “We need to get that group together. It will be channeled through them.”

The group is scheduled to meet the first week in December.