Suffolk Committee to Work on Drug Settlement Priorities

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced the formation of a  committee Thursday that will set priorities for the funds resulting from a lawsuit settlement with opioid manufacturers and pharmacies.

County Legislator Tom Donnelly, D-Huntington Station, was named to the committee, along with:

  • Dr. Gregson Pigott, Commissioner of the Department of Health Services
  • Jennifer Culp, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Health Services
  • Cari Besserman, Director for Alcohol & Substance Abuse Services, Department of Health Services
  • Frances Pierre, Commissioner, Social Services
  • Stuart Cameron, Acting Commissioner, Police Department
  • Dr. Odette Hall, Medical Examiner
  • Thomas Branco, Acting Director, Probation
  • Amy Keyes, Chief of Staff
  • Jon Kaiman, Deputy County Executive
  • Dennis Cohen, County Attorney
  • Presiding Officer Robert Calarco
  • Legislator Sarah Anker
  • Legislator Bridget Fleming
  • Legislator Kara Hahn
  • Legislator Kevin McCaffrey
  • Legislator Jason Richberg
  • Sheriff Errol Toulon

The first committee meeting was scheduled for later Thursday.

“These settlement agreements can never bring back the loved ones that have been lost to this terrible epidemic, but our hope is that with this funding we will be able to prevent future tragedies and end this crisis once and for all,” said  Bellone. “This committee will work with key stakeholders to ensure that the settlement monies are being put to best uses, including treatment, recovery, and enforcement efforts.”

The committee will engage with key stakeholders within the substance abuse community including non-profit service providers with expert-level experience in harm reduction, prevention, treatment and recovery services, as well as families of addicts, addicts in recovery, victims’ advocates and other individuals.

The Committee will be tasked with producing a  final guidance document which must contain general direction as to how the funding received through the settlement agreements should be allocated. The document must prioritize short-term and long-term goals.

Suffolk County was the first county in New York State to sue drug makers in connection with the opioid crisis. The County has since reached multi-million dollar settlement agreement with three major opioid distributors, Amerisource Bergen Drug Corporation, Cardinal Health Inc., and McKesson Corporation, and major retail pharmacies including Walmart, CVS, RiteAid, and Walgreens.

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