The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 13, 2021 1:00 am

Fort Wayne City Council to study opioid payout

May opt out as other cities for more money

DEVAN FILCHAK | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne City Council will consider opting out of an opioid settlement, just as several other cities across the state have.

Fort Wayne and Allen County each filed lawsuits in 2018 alleging the pharmaceutical industry misrepresented the nature of opioid painkillers including those under the brand names OxyContin, Vicodin and Opana.

There were about 50 similar lawsuits filed across the state.

In June, the city councils of Indianapolis, West Lafayette, Lafayette and Muncie approved similar resolutions to opt out.

The reason? These cities want the money out of these legal actions to stay in the area, but only 15% is projected to stay local.

“We want to opt out of the application of the statute because it allocates 85% of the monies to the state. We would like to pursue an independent recovery that will make an impact locally in Fort Wayne,” City Attorney Carol Helton said in a statement.

The city will consider continuing to fight for unspecified damages.

Legislation approved in April calls for the state to retain 15% of each city or county's share, and the remaining 70% would be distributed by Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration, leaving 15% to the city or county. It is unclear how FSSA would use the funds.

Cities and counties have until June 30 to opt out of the settlement. After that, they have 60 days to opt back in before the decision is permanent, according to the provisions.

The resolution introduced at last week's City Council meeting stated that it is “imperative” that the city maximize how it uses the money. No specific suggestions were offered for how the proceeds might be used.

Discussion and a potential vote on the issue is on Tuesday's council agenda.

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