AG Kaul, Merrill Police Chief Bennett highlight NARCAN distribution to law enforcement agencies
For the MERRILL FOTO NEWS
Attorney General Josh Kaul and Merrill Police Department Chief Corey Bennett recently highlighted the distribution of NARCAN to law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin.
The allocation of NARCAN, a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose, to state law enforcement agencies comes after Wisconsin received millions of dollars in settlements from lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies, according to a release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ).
“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,” Kaul stated. “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.”
“We are incredibly grateful that the State of Wisconsin stepped up to assist public safety in the acquisition and administration of local NARCAN supplies,” Bennett said. “We would likely not have been able to obtain and maintain a similar supply on our own. 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 availability and accessibility of NARCAN is important for everyone at risk of an opioid overdose,” said DHS Secretary-designee Kirsten Johnson. “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. We want to thank Attorney General Kaul for helping secure the settlement funds, so Wisconsin has the money to fund this important effort.”
While some opioid matters remain ongoing, Wisconsin is already set to receive over $764 million in settlement funds, DOJ said.
“Consistent with 2021 Wisconsin Act 57, 87 local governments that participated in the opioid litigation receive 70% of the funds, with the state receiving 30% of the funds,” DOJ said. “Of that 30%, 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 the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorders, DOJ noted.
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 $750,000.00 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,” DOJ stated.
As of July 2023, national investigations and litigation against the pharmaceutical industry over the opioid crisis has led to more than $50 billion in settlements. Wisconsin’s share so far is over $764 million. The funds are being used to prevent and treat opioid use disorder, according to DOJ.