FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners Tuesday authorized the county administrator to form an Opioid Advisory Committee to review applications for education and opioid addiction treatment programs financed by money from settlements reached with drug companies.

The county anticipates receiving $777,000 over the next 18 years from the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical settlement. Money from other settlements are expected

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey announced in January 2022 that he had reached an agreement with litigating cities, counties and school districts governing Maine’s use of proceeds from the National Opioid Settlements with distributors Cardinal, McKesson, and Amerisource Bergen and opioid manufacturers Johnson & Johnson.

The agreement completes Maine’s acceptance of a settlement that was initially agreed to by Frey in August 2021. The settlement is estimated to bring as much as $130 million to Maine over 18 years to support state and local efforts to address the opioid epidemic, according to information on the Office of the Attorney General’s website.

Thirty percent of the proceeds will go to the 39 Maine counties and municipalities that either filed litigation against the companies or that have more than 10,000 residents. Twenty percent will go to the state, administered by the Office of the Attorney General. Fifty percent will go to a Maine Recovery Fund that will be disbursed by a Recovery Council comprising stakeholders who will make decisions on how best to maximize the impact of the funds on mitigating the opioid epidemic.

The Recovery Council will include at least four members selected by cities and counties, two members appointed by the governor, the speaker of the House or his/her designee, the president of the Senate or his/her designee, and three members of the recovery community appointed by the attorney general. Up to four additional members may be appointed by the Legislature.

County Administrator Amy Bernard is recommending an Opioid Advisory Committee of up to nine members to help the county set up a process for screening proposals for programs. She said one of the nine members should be a commissioner.

She expects the committee will meet quarterly and its only task will be to help review applications and make a recommendation to commissioners.

Bernard said it would work similar to the Tax-Increment Financing Advisory Committee that reviews projects requesting funds to be presented to the commissioners for approval.

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