MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul is traveling across Wisconsin to highlight the lifesaving NARCAN® that is being distributed to law enforcement agencies across the state because of the millions Wisconsin has received from lawsuits against opioids manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies.
“We’ve taken action to recover funds from companies that contributed to the opioid epidemic both because those companies must be held accountable and to help bring resources to communities in Wisconsin to support the fight against the epidemic,” said Attorney General Kaul. “The distribution of more than 31,000 doses of NARCAN® to law enforcement around the state is just one of the many ways the opioid settlement money will help combat the opioid crisis.”
While some opioid matters remain ongoing, Wisconsin is already set to receive over $764 million in settlement funds. Consistent with 2021 Wisconsin Act 57, 87 local governments that participated in the opioid litigation receive 70 percent of the funds, with the state receiving 30 percent of the funds. Of that 30 percent, in fiscal year 2024, Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS) will receive $30 million. DHS has already received $8 million this year, and it is being used for prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder.
“We are incredibly grateful that the State of Wisconsin stepped up to assist public safety in the acquisition and administration of local Narcan® supplies. We would likely not have been able to obtain and maintain a similar supply on our own,” said Merrill Police Chief Corey Bennett. “As you might know, time is of the essence regarding the effective administration of Narcan®. Now that all of our officers and squad cars are equipped, the odds of timely assistance have dramatically improved. Our community and our officers are also much safer because this program exists.”
The DHS portion of the Joint Committee on Finance-approved plan for use of fiscal year 2023 settlement funds includes $5 million in Narcan and fentanyl test strips, including $750,000 for 135 law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin to expand access to NARCAN®. So far, law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin are receiving 31,560 additional doses of NARCAN®.
“The availability and accessibility of Narcan® is important for everyone at risk of an opioid overdose. It’s our first responders, like law enforcement, who are typically called first. Providing them this lifesaving tool is critical to fighting the opioid epidemic,” said Kirsten Johnson, Secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. “We want to thank Attorney General Kaul for helping secure the settlement funds, so Wisconsin has the money to fund this important effort.”
As of July 2023, national investigations and litigation against the pharmaceutical industry over the opioid crisis has led to more than $50 billion; Wisconsin’s share so far is over $764 million. These funds are being used to prevent and treat opioid use disorder.