Newsletter: Paying for the Pain

News Date

For years, drug companies, manufacturers, and illegal distributors, fueled by a thirst for profit, flooded the medical and street marketplaces with opioids — causing an addiction and overdose crisis ravaging communities across our country. Under prior regional leadership in San Diego County from 2017 to 2021 opioid overdose deaths increased by 209 percent and the fentanyl overdose death rate increased by 885 percent, devastating families throughout our region.

This crisis of addiction was ignored by the old Board of Supervisors, but in the last three years — and with a new vote taken just this week — we have ramped up our County’s focus on addiction treatment and prevention.

But before we get to that, will you join me next week?

Town Hall on Fentanyl

Here and across the nation, young people are losing their lives to the deadly drug fentanyl. But we're fighting back, and I want you to join us in this work.

This Wednesday, October 18 at 6 p.m., my office is hosting a  town hall with community experts about the dangers of illegal Fentanyl use.

Campaigns to inform our children and families about the dangers of fentanyl and opioids are an important part of our County’s strategy, so I encourage you to attend. 

Joining me will be Carlsbad Mayor Pro Tem Priya Bhat-Patel and County of San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan. We’ll be meeting at the Harding Community Center in Carlsbad (3096 Harding St., Carlsbad, CA 92008). 

I hope to see you there for this important discussion. RSVP by clicking HERE.

Building An Opioid Response Infrastructure 

This week I voted with my colleagues to expand proven prevention and treatment programs. The action was part of an update to the Opioid Settlement Framework (more on this below).

Here’s what we voted to do: 

  • Add staff to the Medical Examiner’s Office for toxicology services to expand surveillance of emerging drug trends. When drugs, syringes, or pills are seized, the County will expand its testing on these substances to understand which toxic drugs are in our communities and how this crisis is evolving — so we can get ahead of the curve. 
  • Refocus a pilot program to distribute drug disposal bags to individuals prescribed opioids after a medical procedure. This program will now hone in on helping individuals who are prescribed opioids after a medical or dental procedure in hospitals responsibly dispose of this medication — so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. (Reminder! If you have leftover prescriptions - dispose of them today. More info HERE)
  • Speed up the construction of the East County Recovery Bridge Center. We directed an additional $7.5 million for this facility, which will allow adults who are publicly intoxicated to be dropped off by health, safety, and law enforcement agencies. Here, they will receive short-term services, addiction and mental health screenings, counseling, resources for ongoing treatment, and a place to stabilize. Outpatient substance use disorder services will also be available to ensure continuity of care.

Making Them Pay for the Pain

So what is the Opioid Settlement Framework? It’s a strategy I voted to approve in 2022 to guide how we invest the money we are expected to get from our successful lawsuits against the opioid industry. 

I voted to go after these irresponsible actors, and now San Diego County has been on the winning side of lawsuits against opioid pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, and distributors — like Jansen, TEVA, Allergan, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS. 

The framework sets aside funding to improve access to care, lower costs, and minimize stigma so people reach out before they overdose. We expect to receive about $100 million for our region, meaning we can expand our programs using the settlement money 

Part of a Larger Game Plan

The vote this week is just one way we’re taking to battle opioid and illicit fentanyl addiction. In response to this crisis, the County Board of Supervisors has voted to take several actions, including: 

  • Distribution of 35,000 doses of overdose reversal medication in the past year, and giving out 8,000 Fentanyl Test Strips in the last eight months 
  • Launching a media campaign to prevent fentanyl overdoses in teens and youth
  • Developing and adopting a Comprehensive Harm Reduction Strategy
  • Declaring illicit Fentanyl as a public health crisis 
  • Enhancing Fentanyl education and harm reduction efforts for young people

S.D. Beach Friends: Don’t Forget to RSVP!

One more thing this week: Do you live in La Jolla, Pacific Beach, or Mission Beach? Do you already have your Halloween costume and want to show it off early? Yes? Then join us for our Halloween Meet and Greet on Monday!

We’ll be at the Firehouse Pacific Beach on Monday, October 16th at 6:15 p.m. for a fun and informative evening. Don’t forget to wear your costume! RSVP here.

In Service,