WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — Nine months ago, a jury in Cleveland Federal Court found that three major pharmacy chains had recklessly distributed pain pills in Trumbull and Lake counties. Wednesday, a federal judge announced the monetary settlement in the case and for both counties, it’ll mean a windfall well into the hundreds of millions. So, how will all that money be spent?
Around Courthouse Square in Warren on Wednesday, some of the talk was about the mega settlement coming to Trumbull County by way of three of the largest drug stores.
“Beyond pleased,” said Trumbull County Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa.
He was referring to the $650 million settlement ordered by Federal Judge Dan Polster. The money will come from CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. Trumbull County will get $344 million or $22.9 million a year for 15 years.
Cantalamessa said the money should be spent in four areas — prevention, education, law enforcement and treatment.
“It can be all the way to possibly new facilities for addiction and rehabilitation that are run by certified and licensed individuals,” said Cantalamessa.
“I’m pleased with the amount of the settlement that we received, yes,” said April Caraway, who runs the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board.
She said the plan is to spend the money on programs the county does not have.
“Things like different prevention programs in the schools, harm reduction strategies, specific programs for women and kids, housing, employment, long-term treatment programs,” said Caraway.
Caraway is also big on getting the money into the elementary schools and letting children know the dangers early.
“We cannot have another generation starting and using prescription opioids. We know how addictive they are now. We know how they change your brain, they change your thinking, and we have to stop early use,” said Caraway.
She also believes the money spent could also eventually help Trumbull County’s economy.
“People don’t want to come in if they see us as an impoverished, addicted community. They want to come in and build businesses in a thriving community with people who can work in those jobs,” said Caraway.
Caraway said the plan now is to form a nine-member board that will oversee how the money will be spent. She says the judge has also ordered an administrator to be hired.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that CVS and Walgreens plan to appeal the settlement.