Maryland lawmakers are considering a new bill that would ensure opioid litigation settlement funds from major distributors go to public health and treatment.

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The cross-filed bills, Senate Bill 419 and House Bill 1086, ensure that specific settlement funds received by the state from opioid-related litigation are protected by Maryland’s Opioid Restitution Fund, a non-lapsing fund that focuses on overdose prevention and treatment. The AMA and MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society, strongly support the bills. 

“As Maryland stands to receive tens of millions of dollars to mitigate the harms from opioid-related overdose and death, the clarity brought by S.B. 419 and H.B. 1086 will help ensure that settlement funds can be equitably distributed throughout the state to help build treatment infrastructure and other efforts to save lives,” wrote (PDF) AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, and MedChi CEO and Executive Director Gene Ransom. 

The AMA strongly encourages all states to enact legislation or other policy to ensure that funds received from opioid-related litigation or settlements are focused on public health and treatment

A new law in Wisconsin exempts “any materials used or intended for use in testing for the presence of fentanyl or a fentanyl analog in a substance” from the state’s drug paraphernalia law. The Wisconsin Medical Society and AMA strongly supported Senate Bill 600, which was signed March 16, 2022, by the governor.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic has continued, and Wisconsin has seen an increase in overdoses due to fentanyl,” said the Wisconsin Medical Society’s Ritu Bhatnagar, MD, who also is the Wisconsin Society of Addiction Medicine (WISAM) president. “Today’s action to decriminalize the possession of fentanyl test strips is therefore very timely, as it will help make life-saving information available at critical times. Simply put: this bill can save lives.”

The AMA encourages all states to introduce legislation such as the Wisconsin law, or a similar law in New Mexico.

Read Dr. Bhatnagar’s full statement (PDF).

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