Lake County commissioners: OneOhio body established, opioid lawsuit judgment forthcoming

·2 min read

Jul. 3—The regional body holding authorization of how funds are allocated from the OneOhio Solution opioid litigation settlement is mostly established and a judgment on the "bellwether trial" against pharmacy chains for "irresponsibly distributing drugs" will soon be coming to a resolution, according to assessments from the Lake County commissioners.

According to Gov. Mike DeWine's office, OneOhio ensures a settlement recognizing that every corner of the state has been hit hard by the crisis, and focuses funding on programs that address prevention, treatment, and long-term recovery; criminal justice; and public awareness costs that promote the overall health and well-being of Ohioans.

Additionally, OneOhio ensures that these funds are preserved and flexible over time as a way of helping the state combat the ever-evolving drug problem.

In conjunction, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost late last year announced the state forged an $808 million agreement with the three largest distributors of opioids, putting "the state at the front of the line to receive monetary relief for communities ravaged by the addiction crisis."

During a recent Region 13 meeting — comprised of Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Portage counties — Ashtabula County Commissioner Kathryn Whittington was selected as interim chairperson, noted Lake County Commissioner John Hamercheck.

"We are well represented, well served," he said. "And we are currently working with our attorney general's office and our staff in making sure we comply with what likely will be the requirements — it's a good problem to have insofar as Region 13 is one of the fully-functioning units. Other parts of the state are somewhat more challenged and others that are moving quickly but not being necessarily as productive."

Lake County Administrator Jason Boyd added the county has been involved in the suit for nearly seven years, currently.

"I don't think it was happenstance that we (county officials) were invited to the governor's mansion," he said. "And I think that was a precursor when people knew we were ahead of the game as far as our agencies' and nonprofits' professionalism. It's a team effort."

Boyd and Hamercheck noted U.S. District Judge Dan Polster, who is presiding in a case brought by Lake and Trumbull counties against CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, has reviewed briefs as opposed to hearing closing arguments in a traditional trial before making abatement decisions.

Judgment in the case, Boyd added, is forthcoming.

"He (Polster) has made it clear there will be accountability," Boyd said. "We have enough need in our community, and, as I'm sure, every community across the county, to wisely and sustainably expect those funds down the road."