State, local and federal governments certainly don’t always spend money wisely – however, when it comes to the State of North Carolina’s use of the massive amount of money from a collective lawsuit against opioid makers and distributers, apparently the state is doing it right.  North Carolina has been recognized as a leader in the country when it comes to the effective use of that money.

The State of North Carolina is slated to receive $1.5 billion of the $56 billion total that’s being awarded around the country.

NC Attorney General Josh Stein and NC Association of County Commissioners Executive Director Kevin Leonard have announced that North Carolina received an award for excellence for its application of the “Principles for Use of Fund from the Opioid Litigation.”

Those principles were developed by a coalition of organizations led by faculty and staff at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Sara Whaley, a research associate at that School of Public Health who’s one of the coordinators of the principles said North Carolina’s plan for the next 18 years is a great example of how the principles can be applied at both a state and local level and can set up a system for success now and for years to come.”

Drug makers and distributers settled the case against them brought by state and local governments, which are now receiving those settlement funds and putting them to use battling the ongoing opioid addiction epidemic. Guilford County, for instance, is receiving a total of just over $20 million in the coming years and county staff has created intricate plans as to how to use that money to battle the epidemic.

The NC Department of Justice worked closely with NCACC to develop a Memorandum of Agreement that distributes funds to local governments and the state from a $26 billion agreement that Attorney General Stein helped negotiate with the three largest prescription opioid distributors and Johnson & Johnson. Eighty-five percent of the money will go directly to North Carolina’s local communities to support “prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery, and other strategies to address the opioid overdose epidemic.”

The remainder will go to state government for the same purposes. Last year, state and local governments received just over $93 million as part of the first year of payments.

The coalition that created the award tracks how states and municipalities work “to effectively and equitably distribute opioid settlement fund.”  North Carolina and Rhode Island were the recent recipients of the Award for Excellence in the Application of the Opioid Litigation Principles.

The awards are based on the Principles for the Use of Funds from the Opioid Litigation that were developed to help states and localities effectively and equitably allocate funds to address overdoses.

The principles are as follows:

Principle 1: Spend the money to save lives.

Principle 2: Use evidence to guide spending.

Principle 3: Invest in youth prevention.

Principle 4: Focus on racial equity.

Principle 5: Develop a fair and transparent process for deciding where to spend the funding.

“The best way to turn the tide on the opioid crisis is to make sure we are delivering help to the people who need it,” said Stein in a public statement. “I’m grateful for all of the hard work of my team, the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, and the thousands of people across the state who are committed to getting this urgent work right. I’m proud that North Carolina was honored in this way, and I look forward to our continuing to set a standard for the rest of the nation.”