MOSCOW — The City of Moscow can participate in a national settlement agreement with Johnson & Johnson and three major opioid distributors that could provide money for opioid addiction treatment.

The Moscow Public Works and Finance Committee discussed the settlement during a Monday meeting.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Officer sent a letter to Moscow officials in September announcing the state is going to participate in a national settlement with Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.

According to the Attorney General’s website, opioid overdose deaths have risen dramatically in Idaho in recent years. State and local governments have spent significant money fighting the crisis. Across the country, states have been investigating and litigating pharmaceutical companies for their role in the epidemic.

According to the state, if enough local governments in Idaho opt into this settlement, the state could receive a maximum of nearly $120 million. At minimum, it will receive a little more than $64 million.

City Attorney Mia Bautista said Idaho needs more than 60 percent of the population of eligible counties and cities to sign on for the agreement to be effective. Jan. 2 is the deadline to participate in the settlement agreement.

Moscow can use the money it receives for a long list of purposes relating to opioid addiction abatement, education, treatment and recovery. This includes funding the Latah Recovery Center and other services such as counseling, peer-support services, job placement and childcare. A list of uses can be found in the meeting packet on the city’s website.

According to statistics Bautista provided during Monday’s meeting, there were six opioid overdose deaths in Latah County in 2018. There were seven in 2017, two in 2016 and three in 2015.

“Personally, I think we should join in with this because clearly Moscow and Latah County are being impacted by the opioid issue, same as everybody else is,” Art Bettge said during Monday’s meeting.

The City Council will vote on the issue at its next meeting Dec. 6.

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