Legislation introduced to combat opioid crisis

Senator Amanda Shelton (file photo)

Senator Amanda L. Shelton has introduced Bill No. 204-36 (LS), the “Opioid Prevention and Treatment Act,” in an effort to ensure the proper use of Guam’s anticipated portion of national opioid case settlements.

“For years, the drug epidemic on our island has taken lives, disrupted livelihoods, and torn apart families and communities. These settlement funds are more than just a representation of the debts owed by the pharmaceutical industry to communities nationwide; they are more important than ever to treat substance abuse disorders and prevent future harm to Guam’s families,” said Senator Shelton.

Guam Attorney General Leevin T. Camacho joined attorneys general across the country in successfully organizing an extensive multi-district litigation against entities that manufactured, sold, distributed, dispensed, or promoted opioid use for unlawful business practices that have contributed to the opioid epidemic in the United States. This multi-district litigation has resulted in settlements that total approximately $26 billion, with Guam anticipated to receive upwards of $10 million, the largest non-tobacco settlement the island has ever received.

“Bill 204 positions Guam to effectively prevent and reduce opioid abuse, reduce overdose deaths, and mitigate the problems arising as a result of the opioid epidemic. The creation of the Opioid Recovery Trust Fund, the dedication of these settlement monies, and the establishment of the Opioid Recovery Advisory Council are important steps toward providing support to our people terribly impacted by this crisis,” said Senator Shelton. “I look forward to continuing to support the efforts of Attorney General Camacho and working with our community partners to continue this important work.”

Bill 204, seeks to proactively ensure that settlement dollars are spent repairing the harm done by the opioid crisis on our island. Specifically, the measure will:

· create the Opioid Recovery Trust Fund to receive all monies obtained through opioid litigation;

· dedicate the monies deposited in the fund for use in facilitating and expanding Guam’s substance use disorder prevention and treatment efforts in line with relevant judgments, court orders, agreements, etc.;

· establish the Opioid Recovery Advisory Council, consisting of government partners, community stakeholders, and individuals with first-hand knowledge of the effects of the opioid crisis, to set a spending strategy based on identifiable needs and to consult and advise on adaptations to said strategy based on changing community needs; and

· designate the Office of the Attorney General as the single agency to bring claims regarding opioids against entities to ensure that Guam receives 100 percent of the settlement proceeds available to the island.

The measure, authored by Senator Shelton, is co-sponsored by eight (8) members of the Legislature: Senator Telena Cruz Nelson, Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes, , Senator Mary Camacho Torres, Senator Clynton E. Ridgell, Senator James C. Moylan, Senator Joe S. San Agustin, Senator Jose “Pedo” Terlaje, and Senator Christopher M. Dueñas.