The following article was provided by The Sandgaard Foundation, a donor-advised fund of The Denver Foundation. The Sandgaard Foundation seeks to address the opioid epidemic by helping fund initiatives that save lives from opioid overdose, help people escape the cycle of relapse, and support victims and their families.
August 2019 was a historic month in our nation’s battle against the opioid crisis as the state of Oklahoma won its case against Johnson & Johnson in a landmark ruling. Now, Texas and other states are following suit. This verdict marks the first time a drug manufacturer has been held responsible in a court of law for contributing to America’s health crisis.
With an unprecedented, multimillion-dollar ruling, the need for immediate change becomes clear. However, it could take years before the impact of this multimillion-dollar settlement is felt by those in dire need of support now. So, how do we save lives starting today with focused investment in agile solutions?
We start by acknowledging that it doesn’t take such a high-dollar ruling to act. In the nine months between October 2018 and June 2019, funding from the Opioid Crisis Response Fund (OCRF) saved 983 lives (3.6 per day) through targeted naloxone distribution, at an average cost of $135.86 per life. That’s proof that a little, most certainly, goes a long way.
The evidence of actual lives saved is why my foundation—The Sandgaard Foundation—is dedicating a $10,000 test grant to the OCRF to support a more effective and immediate approach to saving as many lives as possible, now. OCRF is the only national organization exclusively focused on supporting what is proven to save the most lives. By teaming up with OCRF, The Sandgaard Foundation ensures it will fund less of what we think should work and more of what we can prove does work.
Not only will this grant stretch financially, but its reach will span the country. A report by the International Drug Policy Consortium shows only 8% of U.S. counties implement overdose education and naloxone distribution programs. In providing those suffering from addiction with immediate resources, we can start making a difference for the greatest critical need.
The Johnson & Johnson ruling could set a precedent for the thousands of approaching opioid lawsuits nationwide. I hope we see more rulings similar to what August brought us. But for now, we cannot sit back and wait for a judge to decide when and where the money goes. We have to act now, and we have to act fast.
To find out how you can get involved, visit our website sandgaardfoundation.org or connect with us on social: @SandgaardFnd.