Local communities need the resources to prevent and treat substance use disorders.

WASHINGTONDec. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — This week, the not-for-profit Center for U.S. Policy (CUSP) is urging the federal government not to pursue any claims it may have to state opioid litigation proceeds.

More than 3,000 state, local, and tribal governments have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, and related defendants for their alleged contributions to substance use disorder (SUD) and related harms. Some of those cases have reached settlements, others have concluded after trial, and many remain unresolved. Communities are collectively expecting to receive tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars in opioid litigation proceeds over the next two decades.

Precedent exists for the federal government, which helps fund state Medicaid programs, to recover a portion of proceeds from state lawsuits against drug makers. In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled the federal government was entitled to reimbursement for its share of proceeds of a settlement between West Virginia and a pharmaceutical company stemming from West Virginia Medicaid overpayments for the company’s medication.

“U.S. communities desperately need more resources to prevent and treat substance use disorders, provide compassionate care for people who use drugs, and support people in recovery,” Michael C. Barnes, CUSP’s chairman, said. “It is essential for the federal government to strengthen efforts to address drug-related harms, not to weaken them.”

CUSP submitted a letter on Monday, December 7, and on Thursday, December 9, will speak by videoconference to the federal Interagency Substance Use Disorder Coordinating Committee (ISUDCC). Congress established the ISUDCC in 2018 to evaluate and publicly report the extent to which federal policies are aligned with state and local SUD prevention and treatment strategies.

Other recommendations CUSP made to the ISUDCC include:

  • Extending COVID-19 flexibilities permanently to reduce barriers to patient access to medications for opioid use disorder (OUD);

  • Enabling Medicare and Medicaid participants to access FDA-cleared prescription digital therapeutics for SUD and mental health as covered benefits;

  • Requiring federally reimbursed hospitals to implement SUD warm handoff programs and have a practitioner who is qualified to prescribe buprenorphine for OUD on duty or on call at all times;

  • Funding community paramedicine programs that address SUD;

  • Requiring health plans to cover health services provided by community paramedics;

  • Mandating that federal law enforcement obtain a referral from a state a licensing board before instituting, aiding in, or defending an investigation or criminal or civil action against a prescriber or dispenser of FDA-approved medications in which medical need or patient care is at issue; and

  • Encouraging states, localities, and tribes to incorporate the public health priorities set forth in the Model Opioid Litigation Proceeds Act into governing law and future opioid litigation settlement agreements.

About the Center for U.S. Policy

CUSP is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research and education organization. CUSP’s 2021 and 2022 issue priorities include reducing substance use disorders and their consequences, including drug poisonings. The organization is home to the Finding the ‘ME‘ in TreatmentWarm Handoff, and Prescriber Safety initiatives.

For more information on CUSP and its initiatives, go to c4usp.org and follow @USPolicyCenter on Twitter.

SOURCE Center for U.S. Policy