The Post and Courier attended IMPH and the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services' (DAODAS) June 22 press conference regarding the recent opioid settlement and IMPH's new report: South Carolina’s Guide to Approved Uses for Investing Opioid Settlement Funds.

A guidebook on effective ways to combat South Carolina’s growing opioid crisis is being distributed statewide to give local leaders a reference for deciding how to spend their share of a national settlement.

South Carolina is expected to receive $360 million over the next 18 years under a $26 billion settlement with a pharmaceutical company and three major opioid distributors announced earlier this year.

More than 90 percent of the money must be used to stem abuse of the highly addictive drugs, and the bulk of that will go to the cities and counties that joined in the negotiations through Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office.

While the spending must fall under a list of approved uses, the details are largely up to local officials.

The report released June 22 titled “South Carolina’s Guide to Approved Uses for Investing Opioid Settlement Funds,” aims to be a practical guide for decision-makers. It includes a glossary of the terminology, an overview of allowed uses and options and explanations for each.

“With the lives at stake in this drug crisis we really cannot afford to squander the settlement funds,” said Sara Goldsby, director of the state Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, which created the report with the South Carolina Institute of Medicine & Public Health. “These experts have given content depth and detail based on the best science and the latest research.”

Suggestions include expanding the use of naloxone, a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose, and expanding screening and treatment for pregnant women.

“It’s an incredibly difficult disease to treat and incredibly difficult to beat if you have it, but people can and do get better,” said Dr. Edward Simmer, director of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. “There is hope, and it’s important to remember that.”

The statistics are startling, he said.

Read the full article by Seanna Adcox here.