Principles for the Use of Opioid Settlement Funds

Prepared by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


This report outlines a comprehensive strategy to combat the opioid crisis, emphasizing the expansion of diversion programs, funding for harm reduction and anti-stigma initiatives, as well as equitable access to treatments. It advocates for the engagement of community members in formulating solutions, particularly in minority communities. The principles for using funds from opioid litigation focus on developing a fair and transparent process for fund allocation. This process includes identifying areas of need based on data, receiving input from diverse groups involved in the epidemic, and ensuring representation from affected communities in the decision-making process. The report also lists several resources that provide evidence-based interventions and strategies to further aid in addressing the opioid epidemic.

Our Takeaways

  1. The report emphasizes the importance of funding programs in minority communities with diverse leadership, which have a track record of hiring from the surrounding neighborhood.
  2. It supports the development of a fair and transparent process for deciding how to spend funds from opioid litigation.
  3. The allocation of funds should be guided by public health leaders, with active engagement from people and families with lived experience.
  4. Data should be used to identify areas where additional funds could make the biggest difference. This could include groups not reached by current interventions or geographic areas needing specific programs.
  5. The planning process should include input from diverse groups involved in different parts of the epidemic, such as treatment providers, law enforcement personnel, social service organizations, and recovery community organizations.
  6. Communities should be engaged in the decision-making process, with people receiving treatments being part of the discussions.
  7. The report emphasizes the importance of gaining input from the public to raise the profile of the newly developed plan and to provide a platform for those with insights to contribute.
  8. Equitable distribution of funds should be ensured, with representation from affected communities included in the decision-making process.
  9. The report provides resource compilations that contain evidence-based interventions to address the opioid epidemic.
  10. The overall approach of the report centers on a comprehensive strategy to combat the opioid crisis, with an emphasis on expanding diversion programs, funding harm reduction, fighting stigma, and ensuring equitable access to treatments.


From the Principles: 

"With the influx of funding streams from the opioid litigation, jurisdictions must avoid what happened with the dollars that states received as part of the litigation against tobacco companies. Those landmark lawsuits were hailed as an opportunity to help current smokers quit and prevent children from starting to smoke. Unfortunately, most states have not used the dollars to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Overall, less than 3% of revenue from the settlement and tobacco taxes went to tobacco control efforts. Failure to invest these dollars in tobacco prevention and cessation programs has been a significant missed opportunity to address the greatest cause of preventable death in the United States.

To guide jurisdictions in the use of these funds, The Principles for the Use of Funds From the Opioid Litigation were created."

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