NewsOpioid Crisis


Possible opioid settlement won't undo despair in Summit Co.

Posted at 6:21 PM, Sep 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-12 18:33:16-04

AKRON, Ohio — A potential settlement involving the maker of OxyContin could bring millions of dollars to Summit County, but it won't undo the despair cause by the opioid epidemic.

"People lost their lives. People lost their loved ones. Children are without parents. Parents are without children. There's no amount of money that could ever fix that," said Tugg Massa, founder of Akron Say No to Dope.

A tentative settlement with Purdue Pharma calls for the drug maker to pay $12 billion and the company's owners would give up control. The money could go to more than 2,000 cities and counties in several states.

News 5 confirmed the estimated payout for Summit County would be $13.2 million and Akron would receive about $3.7 million.

Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda said settlement money won't restore the damage from the crisis, but hopes funds would be used for education, prevention and more sober living housing.

"It may help mitigate the damages and help individuals continue to be sober and help them stay sober, but it won't take away the addiction that resulted from all of that use," Skoda said.

According to Skoda, there have been 10,277 overdoses in the county over the last seven years and 623 fatal overdoses over the last ten years.

That includes 115 deadly overdoses so far in 2019. That's up from 110 all of last year.

According to a Drug Enforcement Administration database, 212 million opioid doses were dispensed from pharmacies in Summit County between 2006 and 2012.

Skoda said the epidemic has been frustrating and devastating with so many lives lost, families left heartbroken and many kids placed in the care of Summit County Children's Services.

"More kids are in custody now because it's not safe for them to be at home. Their parents struggle with addiction," she said.

Massa believes any drug companies that helped drive the opioid crisis should be held accountable.

"They overprescribed. They pushed the doctors to overprescribe," Massa said.

A federal civil trial that names other drug makers as defendants is expected to start next month in Cleveland.