Sher-Den could receive $540K in opioid settlement

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Sherman and Denison have both signed up to receive funds under a statewide opioid settlement program. During a meeting Monday night, Sherman city pledged their portion of the settlement funds to TCC.

Cities across Texoma are joining a statewide coalition of municipalities that will receive settlement funds as a part of litigation in the ongoing opioid crisis. This week, the cities of Sherman and Denison both agreed in separate meetings to join a settlement against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors that could provide north Texas with hundred of thousands of dollars aimed at combating the addiction epidemic.

When combined, the two cities could see nearly $540,000 in funding toward multiple strategies and programs related to opioid addiction and overdose deaths. The settlement comes during a high point of the epidemic as overdose deaths rose 30 percent in the U.S. and 32 percent in Texas — primarily driven by opioid overdoses — in 2020.

The settlement relates to litigation by multiple states and subdivisions against four companies — Johnson & Johnson AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — for their role in the crisis. The attorneys general for these states will assist in allocating funds to communities based on the share given to each state.

For Texas, this portion equates to about $1.44 billion of funding for opioid programs and strategies.

The city of Sherman is poised to receive about $330,000 under the distribution. However, a final number will not be available until early next year. During Monday's city council meeting, Sherman leaders said the city's funding will be used to support the Texoma Community Center and its opioid treatment programs.

"They really are the only ones in the area that already have an opioid program to help people," Sherman Finance Director Mary Lawrence said. "So, we've talked to them about beefing up their program funding to help additional residents."

TCC CEO Diana Cantu said it is a bit too early to say how these funds will be used by TCC as the guidance for the program has yet to be released. However, she expects that support for substance abuse programs and crisis teams will be approved uses.

One limitation on these funds is that they must be used for residents of Sherman.

Cantu and Sherman city leaders both supported potentially using the funds to assist in training Sherman Police personnel in topics related to crisis mitigation and identifying when someone may be better served by a mental health professional.

These funds could also assist the center in other ways by providing an alternative revenue source for opioid treatment and assistance. By using these funds, Cantu said the center may be able to utilize its general funding elsewhere for other needed programs. In some cases, these programs may still be of assistance to opioid patients as dual diagnoses are common.

"It really will go to provide a more robust support for them," Cantu said.

 For its part, Denison is slated to potentially see about $210,000 in funding through the settlement. However, Denison Public Information Officer Aaron Werner said it is too early for the city to decide how it will allocate these funds.

"Depending on the amount distributed, we will look at additional funding for our current remediation sources like additional police training and funding when EMS has to use Narcan to assist a patient," Werner said. "These will be more options presented as time goes on."

Cantu said she has reached out to Denison regarding possible partnerships for training or other remediation efforts.