Launching NLC’s National Opioid Settlement Dashboard: Focusing on Solutions


  • Sarah Minster
May 21, 2024 - (6 min read)

NLC launched the National Opioid Settlement Dashboard, providing insight into the level of funding that cities and counties can expect to receive from the national opioid settlement. A solutions-oriented tool, the dashboard estimates the total amount your city can expect to receive over 18 years and offers tailored investment recommendations based on your level of settlement dollars.  This national opioid settlement has the potential to drive your city, town or village toward opioid abatement and remediation; it also offers the chance to bring public health solutions into your communities.

Opioid Settlement: Background

This national settlement, finalized in 2021, totals $26 billion dollars and resolves all opioid litigation brought by state and local governments against three major opioid distributors (“Distributors”) and the opioid manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. under parent company Johnson and Johnson (we’ll refer to this manufacturer as “J&J”). The settlement awards approximately $10 billion to participating local governments – cities and counties – with additional funds allocated to participating states. Cities must use the bulk of their settlement awards for opioid abatement and remediation.

“While no amount of money will ever be enough, this settlement will force these drug companies to pay a historic amount of money to bring much-needed treatment and recovery services to…communities and to change their business practices so that something like this never happens again.”

Source: North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, 2021

Building off of NLC’s work on how opioid settlements can advance city and county abatement, we created this interactive dashboard that estimates each municipality’s total settlement to the nearest $1,000. To track existing payouts and to see each locality’s annual breakdown of funds, see this resource from KFF Health News.

This dashboard focuses solely on the Distributors and J&J settlement. While this historic settlement was the first of its kind, several additional national opioid settlements were recently announced– they were reached with pharmacy chains and opioid manufacturers. We plan to update this dashboard with data from the other national opioid settlements.

Focusing on Solutions

While payment schedules vary by city and by state, settlement payments from the Distributors ($21 billion spanning 18 years) and J&J ($5 billion spanning 9 years) should be invested meaningfully and strategically. This tool is intended to guide municipalities of varying sizes – with varying settlement amounts – in the decision-making process around how and where to spend opioid settlement funds. By sharing collaborative solutions, evidence-backed approaches, and innovative approaches to opioid abatement and remediation, NLC aims to support the public health and well-being of municipalities and their residents.

“This process and funding have brought groups together with renewed energy to serve individuals, families, and this at-risk population… I can foresee the impact on [the region], from bringing back prevention education to our youth and creating recovery and treatment options for the community, and I am excited to see what it does for the state.”

Source: Alamosa County Commissioner Lori Laske, member of the Colorado Opioid Abatement Council, 2022

We organize opioid settlement investment recommendations and strategies into four categories:

  1. Collaboration: Strategies focused on cooperation, regional planning, and coalition building with neighboring cities, towns, and villages, as well as your county and state partners. As settlement payments are to be disbursed over many years, cross-system collaboration between local governments – as well as community-based organizations – is vital to maximize impact.
  2. Research & Data: Recommendations that maximize the use of research and data to stay informed and track progress on the opioid crisis in your community. Promote transparency and accountability by publicly reporting the impact of opioid settlement investments.
  3. Treatment & Harm Reduction: Guidance for implementing evidence-based strategies to treat opioid use disorder and save lives. From purchasing harm reduction products and making them widely available to expanding supportive services for vulnerable groups, this section offers high-impact, shorter-term strategies to create positive change in your community.
  4. Prevention & Recovery: Strategies to engage key populations in opioid use prevention and education while supporting long-term recovery.  By challenging stigma and partnering with community stakeholders, in addition to engaging people with lived experience, you can support sustainable investments and healthy communities.

Some states are investing in groundbreaking approaches such as supporting an overdose prevention center, awarding harm reduction grants to community organizations, widely distributing naloxone, and more. It’s important to note that most (but not all!) states allow opioid settlement funds to replace existing funding streams, so investing in targeted, evidence-based programs will be key to maximizing the impact of your municipality’s funds.

NLC’s dashboard, aimed at local leaders and public health officials, offers tailored investment recommendations to communities at all levels of settlement funding (it even includes recommendations for municipalities that will not receive a settlement award).

“We have lost far too many Louisvillians to overdose, and we are asking the entire community to help us prevent more deaths… Harm reduction strategies like readily accessible Narcan, fentanyl test strips and safety planning are now more vital than ever.”

Source: Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, 2022

Looking to the Future

This dashboard is intended to guide city investments as settlement funds begin to be paid out. However, we acknowledge that hearing from city leaders themselves – about their decision-making process for investing funds, successes and challenges they’ve encountered, and best practices they’ve developed – can be a useful opportunity for peer learning. Later this summer, NLC will convene city leaders and key public health stakeholders to discuss how the national opioid settlements have impacted their cities.  Please stay tuned for a webinar announcement and registration information via the NLC events page.

“While nothing can truly make whole what was lost in this country, what we can do is ensure that thousands of communities nationwide have the tools they need to prevent the opioid epidemic from taking more lives. We hope this agreement does exactly that.”

Source: Statement from National Prescription Opiate Litigation Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee, 2022

This national opioid settlement promotes treatment and recovery in local governments across the US. While no amount of money can fully address the harm associated with the opioid epidemic, strategic investments and evidence-backed approaches can spark change for the better. NLC is committed to supporting cities, towns and villages in the decision-making process around how and where to invest funds, and we aim to uplift success stories and innovative projects from municipalities of all sizes. With this National Opioid Settlement Dashboard, NLC is focused on solutions to champion the right investment approach for your community.

About the Author

Sarah Minster

About the Author

Sarah Minster is a Research Specialist with the Research & Data Analysis Center.