OneOhio Recovery Foundation to Ensure Fair Distribution of Funds to Fight the Addiction Crisis Across Ohio
By Kathryn Whittington, Interim Executive Director, OneOhio Recovery Foundation
(April 2023) After too many years and too many lost and damaged lives, Ohio leaders are succeeding in holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic. Through an unprecedented, unified approach to opioid lawsuit litigation and settlements, Ohio is receiving new resources to help repair the damage and strengthen our state’s fight against substance abuse.
In 2020, Ohio’s state and local leaders announced the OneOhio Plan, which established guidelines for state and local governments to jointly approach settlement negotiations and litigation with drug manufacturers and distributors of opioids. Formalized through the OneOhio Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the plan also provided a mechanism to distribute opioid litigation awards and settlement funds. A portion of the opioid funds are to be distributed directly to state government and local governments, while the remaining 55 percent will be administered by the OneOhio Recovery Foundation. The Foundation is a private, non-profit, non-government entity established to ensure equal, transparent, and locally driven distribution of opioid settlement dollars for projects impacting communities in every corner of the state. Its 29-member board is appointed by state leaders and community leaders in 19 metro and non-metro regions.
Following the guidelines established in the OneOhio MOU, Ohio has joined national settlements with nine separate defendant companies. In 2021, Ohio announced an $808 million settlement with the three largest distributors of opioids: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. With 55 percent of the distributor settlement dollars alone set to flow to the Foundation over approximately 18 years, the responsibility now comes to the board of directors to make certain these dollars are used wisely.
While the Foundation has not yet received its first payments from the distributor settlement, or any other opioid settlements negotiated under the OneOhio MOU, we expect to receive dollars very soon. Since the first official meeting in June 2022, members of the board have focused on adopting the policies and procedures necessary to responsibly manage and distribute these resources on behalf of Ohioans. Additionally, with every settlement payment received, the board is charged with determining how those funds will be distributed across the state, including for projects in the 19 Regions, for statewide initiatives, and for investments so future generations have resources to combat addiction.
Leaders of the OneOhio Recovery Foundation are actively engaging Ohio’s addiction prevention, treatment, recovery, and public health communities to get their feedback and guidance and to build lasting partnerships. Additionally, the Foundation is making good progress in setting up the processes and criteria for evaluating grant applications and then distributing funds professionally, transparently, and as quickly as possible. Given the large sums of money involved and the importance of this mission, we are careful to consult with leading experts, follow best practices and make the effort to get things right the first time.
Almost every Ohioan has been impacted in their family, neighborhood or workplace by drug abuse and addiction. The OneOhio Recovery Foundation is bringing together people from every part of Ohio to work on tackling addiction in communities where its damage is being felt the most. Properly managed, these funds can last as long as Ohio does. Hopefully, however, our work is completed much sooner. Ohio recovers as one. Let’s come together as a state in the important work.
To learn more and sign up to receive the latest news from the Foundation, please visit OneOhioFoundation.com.
About the OneOhio Recovery Foundation
The OneOhio Recovery Foundation is a private, non-profit foundation created under the leadership of Governor Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost, and other state and local leaders, with the mission advancing Ohio’s addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts now and into the future.
The Foundation is governed by a 29-member board from across Ohio and is funded by 55 percent of settlement funds that Ohio is receiving from the pharmaceutical industry as a consequence of its role in the national opioid epidemic. Funds support local efforts to prevent and combat addiction and are also invested to support those efforts for the long term.