MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Myrtle Beach will get more than $4 million as part of an opioid crisis settlement.
More than $360 million is headed to South Carolina after a multi-year, multi-state settlement was reached with major drug corporations. Part of that money will go to overdose protection in the city.
The city hopes to use the money for a slew of other opioid diversion programs, such as expanding recovery services or additional training for first responders.
“Myrtle Beach is no different than anywhere else in the nation right now,” Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said. “We are all suffering an opioid epidemic and with COVID I think we’ve seen the increases that have come with that.”
Last year, nearly 500 overdoses were reported in Myrtle Beach. It’s a figure that has steadily increased since fewer than 125 overdoses were reported just five years ago. But the millions in settlement money headed to Myrtle Beach could be part of the answer.
“This settlement is going to help us continue our opioid initiative and hire the right people to help the police department and it requires people on the streets helping people,” Bethune said.
The city is set to get the $4.3 million over the next 18 years, after three of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies settled a lawsuit for their role in the crisis.
This year’s money could be in the city by the summer.
“It is about putting hte right people on the street to help those who need help,” Bethune said.
Right now, the city is working out its plan for the money. One idea was to hire people to work directly with first responders and law enforcement.
“That’s part of the budgeting process,” Bethune said. “What are the positions we need, how much do we need to pay these people. Because we want to use this money wisely and what the desire is, is to help people get the help they need.”
In addition to hundreds of millions of dollars the companies agreed to pay, there are several other stipulations in the agreement. For instance, Johnson and Johnson can no longer sell or lobby for any opioid-related activities.