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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

NYU: How to Maximize Public Benefit From Opioid Settlement Resources

A commentary co-authored by Dr. Cheryl Healton, dean and professor of Public Health Policy and Management at the New York University School of Global Public Health, was published in The Milbank Quarterly titled “Maximizing Public Benefit From Opioid Settlement Resources.”

In 2018, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called the current crisis of overdose deaths “the defining epidemic of our time.” The parallels between the opioid crisis and the historic tobacco crisis are striking: both ran rampant for decades before systematic legal and policy efforts to combat them took hold, both relied on addictive agents difficult to quit once tolerance is high, and both were driven by corporations that made billions of dollars from their sale, facilitated by aggressive, sophisticated, and targeted marketing. 

Overall, the 1999 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) must inform the opioid crisis response so that the same mistakes are not made. The authors of this commentary believe that all resources from a potential opioid MSA should be used to address the addiction and overdose crisis and not be allocated to states for redirected appropriation. Attorneys General and judges must work diligently to avoid redirected appropriation for the obvious reason that it would be “penny wise and pound foolish” in light of the extraordinary scope of the opioid epidemic.

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