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Louisville activist says opioid settlement funds should go to groups 'that are doing direct services right now'

"We don't have 18 years for money to come because people are suffering and dying everyday. Right now, someone is suffering with those issues."

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — While observing International Overdose Awareness Day, the Louisville mayor announced the city will get $31.8 million in opioid settlement funds, and it will be paid out over 18 years.

However, critics feel the funds will not come in time to save lives.   

"We don't have 18 years for money to come because people are suffering and dying everyday," Director of Vocal Kentucky Shameka Parrish- Wright said. "Right now, someone is suffering with those issues."

According to a press release, this money will go towards the city’s efforts to help those with substance abuse disorders.

Louisville joined the national, multi-district litigation in August 2017 to hold drug pharmacies and distributors responsible. Mayor Greg Fischer said the litigation held them accountable “for dumping millions of opioids in our neighborhoods while refusing to monitor, identify, report and halt suspicious shipments of these drugs.”

Five years later, the settlement was approved. Of the $31.8 million in the settlement, Jefferson County is expected to receive two payments totaling around $3.5 million by the end of the year according to the release.

Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness and other agencies plan to seek public input to find out how the funds should be used to serve those with substance abuse disorders according to the release.

Parrish-Wright said she's worried many will be left out of the process.

"We don't need to have 20 task forces or these other groups. We've already heard from the people, from the hurt and the pain and from the services that's needed," she said. "It shouldn't be rocket science on how to give the money, and not to the usual suspects, the bigger organizations, but to the smaller groups like Kentucky Harm Reduction and other groups that are doing direct services right now." 

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