Opioid overdose deaths in Ulster County up over 400 percent since 2014

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KINGSTON – Deaths from opioid overdoses in Ulster County have increased by 407 percent since 2014 and 11 between 2020 and 2021.

The county has received $1.3 million of an expected $1.47 million in opioid settlement funds in 2022, County Comptroller March Gallagher said. Those funds are a result of settlements negotiated by Attorney General Letitia James in four separate cases.

“The comptroller’s office recommends that 100 percent of the funds received from settlement agreements be dedicated to the prevention and treatment of opioids, even those funds that are unrestricted, given the frightening increase in opioid deaths in Ulster County,” Gallagher said.

She said the opioid epidemic continues to take “a serious financial toll on Ulster County government, business, and families. These first settlement proceeds are but a fraction of the human toll our community has suffered.”

These funds are the beginning of a series of payments expected for settlements with distributors, manufacturers, and pharmacies. The Distributors settlement will continue for the next 16 years. The Janssen Pharmaceutical settlement for the next six years. The County also received one-time payments from Allergan Pharmaceutical and one Distributors’ settlement. A settlement from Endo Pharmaceutical is anticipated by year end.

A portion of the settlement funds received must be used for approved use that include treatment, prevention, training, research and first responder support.

Additional settlements are expected with pharmacies such as CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens as well as Purdue Pharma.

Ulster County has numerous programs both active and proposed to address the opioid epidemic including the Sheriff’s Office ORACLE program, a re-established Mental Health Department, providing mental health services in schools and plans for a crisis stabilization center and three respite houses.