CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced it will use $22 million from a settlement with drug distributors to combat the drug epidemic in the state.

DHHR is planning to use the funds to ensure treatment beds are provided for those dealing with drug addiction.

The Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund was passed by the Legislature during the regular session and mandates that the DHHR ensure beds to provide substance use disorder treatment services in existing or newly constructed facilities.

The DHHR plans to evaluate where there is the greatest need for drug treatment services in West Virginia and will utilize an application-type process to empower private entities to built these facilities.

“The legislation directing the use of these settlement funds for treatment beds will address a critical gap in the fight against substance abuse,” said DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch in a press release. “These funds will help DHHR continue critical substance abuse initiatives, and will complement existing prevention, treatment and recovery services.”

The Governor’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse will now become the advisory board for DHHR’s newly formed Office of Drug Control Policy under the leadership of Gov. Jim Justice.

The GACSA has provided guidance to the governor and recommended priorities addressing substance use in West Virginia since it was established in 2011.

“The opioid crisis is impacting the very fabric of our communities across the state beyond the affected individuals,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “This initiative will focus on long term treatment services, which is a much needed component to providing help to those individuals in need of treatment services.”

Gupta said they are a welcome addition to the services currently available and will be an integral part of our coordinated and comprehensive approach to combating the epidemic, led by the new Office of Drug Control Policy.

The drug settlements resolve allegations that the defendant companies failed to detect, report and stop the flood of suspicious prescription drug orders into the state.

The settlements also require each distributor to comply with state law in reporting suspicious orders.

The defendants denied any allegation of liability, with the parties agreeing to settlements to avoid the delay, expense, inconvenience and uncertainty of protracted litigation.

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West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources

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