(BIVN) – A Hawaiʻi State House committee briefing was held at the Capitol on Wednesday, to provide lawmakers with an update on various initiatives to be supported by opioid lawsuit settlement funds.
According to the agenda of the Health and Homelessness Committee, “in 2021, states across the nation began entering into historic multistate settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for their roles in the promotion of opioids and the addiction crisis that ensued and continues to afflict individuals and communities across the nation.”
Speaking from the Big Island at Thursday’s meeting was Timothy Hansen, a member of the Hawai‘i Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee, and an executive assistant to Mayor Mitch Roth.
“In June, I talked about how – here on Hawaiʻi island – we we were experiencing one death every 13 days because of overdose,” Hansen said. “I just feel like that’s that’s unacceptable, of course.”
“On our island today, that number has been updated,” Hansen continued. “We’re experiencing one death every 11 days. So that trend is going in the wrong direction.”
During his presentation, Hansen touched on the Hawaiʻi Island Fentanyl Task Force, the UH-Hilo Masters in Psychology and Counseling Program, and the “needed expansion for treatment” on the Big Island, and “most importantly, a detox center which is non-existent at this point here on the island.”
Hansen said that the Big Island Substance Abuse Council “has stepped forward” and the County has helped the non-profit “to locate to an old hospital here in Hilo Town. They are beginning the process of establishing a detox center. They’ve committed that, in January of 2024, they’re going to be doing a soft opening with out-patient services, just to get established in this location right downtown.”
“Then, once the building renovations are complete, and all of the required licensing is in place, they will begin to offer a 3 to 7 day residential detoxification program, providing a safe and supportive environment in order to detox from drugs,” Hansen told the committee. “It’ll be medically assisted, if necessary, but again – will be a
24/7 residential kind of spot. It will serve island-wide.”
The House Committee says it has been reported that the State of Hawai‘i received nearly $2 million dollars in a settlement agreement reached with McKinsey & Company, and is expected to receive an estimated $13 million in an agreement reached with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family, and an estimated $73 million in agreements reached with Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson.