In response to the nationwide opioid epidemic, the Middlesex County board of commissioners on Thursday said it formed the Middlesex County Opioid Settlement Advisory Council.
The Advisory Council — which includes a cross-section of experts in behavioral health, substance use disorders and community outreach — will provide input and recommendations regarding the allocation of funds the county receives as a portion of New Jersey’s more than $641 million settlement amount between opioid distributors and the state as a result of class-action lawsuits.
The lawsuits were brought by states and local political subdivisions against opioid manufacturer Janssen and the country’s three largest pharmaceutical opioid distributors: McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen.
About the advisory council
The Middlesex County Opioid Settlement Advisory Council will provide input and recommendations for the direction of funds across approved targets, including:
- Preventing the problematic use of opioids;
- Preventing overdose deaths and harm through harm-reduction strategies;
- Providing connections to care;
- Supporting people in treatment and recovery;
- Addressing the needs of justice-involved persons;
- Addressing the needs of pregnant or parenting people who use drugs and their families;
- Training, cross-system collaborative efforts and/or research.
For information about programs and services available for individuals and families dealing with substance use disorders, please visit middlesexcountynj.gov and type “Addiction Services” in the search bar.
“The opioid crisis has gripped our nation for decades, claiming nearly a million lives just since 1999 — including so many young people — and impacting millions of more lives. In Middlesex County, we have faced this epidemic head-on by offering a continuum of care that encompasses prevention, treatment and recovery support. But there is more to do,” Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald Rios said. “The recent, nationwide settlements between opioid distributors and the state of New Jersey will provide additional funding to help us fight this crisis. The Middlesex County Opioid Settlement Advisory Council will provide critical recommendations to ensure we allocate these funds in the most effective manner. My colleagues and I on the board thank Dr. Bonnie Nolan for agreeing to serve as the advisory council’s chair, and the members of the advisory council for sharing their experience and expertise.”
Composed of experts in the field of substance use disorders, behavioral health and community outreach inclusive of those with lived experience, the Middlesex County Opioid Settlement Advisory Council includes representatives from the county’s health care partners at RWJBarnabas Health/Rutgers University Behavioral Healthcare and Hackensack Meridian Health and the Office of the County Prosecutor.
Nolan, director of Woodbridge Township addiction services, will serve as chair of the Middlesex County Opioid Settlement Advisory Council, while Commissioner Claribel A. Azcona-Barber, chair of the county’s Community Services Committee, will serve as the board’s liaison with the advisory council.