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Nevada to get first payment of $50 million from opioid settlements

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File

FILE - This June 17, 2019, file photo shows 5-mg pills of Oxycodone.

Since the start of the pandemic, opioid-related deaths have been on the rise across the state.

In 2020, 780 Nevadans died of opioid overdoses. That’s 55% higher than 2019. The death rate for those under 25 nearly tripled in the same time frame from 38 to 106.

State and local officials are hailing the arrival of $50 million in drug settlement money.

It’s the first installment from a pair of settlements against drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and three distributors, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.

Eventually, Nevada will receive more than $285 million from the multi-billion-dollar settlement.

"The opioid epidemic has killed thousands of Nevadans, including elderly, vulnerable people and children. And it's devastated the state's health care and our public safety systems. This is not a far away problem. This is not something that's happening over there. It's happening right here in the Silver State," said Attorney General Aaron Ford. 

He said Nevada has been one of the hardest-hit states. The money will be put toward recovery programs and services.

Dawn Yohey oversees the Fund for a Resilient Nevada within the state's Department of Health and Human Services.

She said one of the programs will allow them to distribute naloxone, a drug that temporarily reverses an opioid overdose. They're also working with healthcare providers on alternatives to opioid prescriptions and education about counterfeit pills on the street. 

Yohey said the University of Nevada is also helping educate law enforcement in Nevada on the use of naloxone. 

"Nevada is also responsible for ensuring a full and accurate reporting of all opioid litigation and settlement dollars for all programs across the state, including reporting from counties and local entities," she said.

Marilyn Kirkpatrick with the Clark County Commission said her daughter dealt with opioid addiction that led to other drugs.

"I intend to be the advocate for other moms and grandmothers who have felt alone … [Addiction] is a real deal and it doesn't discriminate."

She said the county joined the One Nevada agreement to ensure each county gets fair funding. In Clark County, she said more resources like sober living homes are needed, as well as wraparound services for addicts including medical, housing and mental health help. 

For information on free naloxone kits from Foundation for Recovery, click here. Full a full list of naloxone providers in Nevada, click here.

Dawn Yohey, spokesperson, Fund for a Resilient Nevada, Department of Health and Human Services; Marilyn Kirkpatrick, chair, Clark County Commission

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Paul serves as KNPR's producer and reporter in Northern Nevada. Based in Reno, Paul specializes in covering state government and the legislature.
Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the online editor for Nevada Public Radio. She curates content on, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.