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April 4, 2024

Milwaukee County Receives National Recognition for Efforts to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Award recognizes Milwaukee County for projects funded by opioid litigation settlement dollars


MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee County has received the “Award for Excellence in the Application of the Opioid Litigation Principles” for the first quarter of 2024. This award recognizes Milwaukee County’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and save lives through effective utilization of opioid litigation settlement dollars.

These quarterly awards are based on a set of evidence-based guidelines called the Principles for the Use of Funds from the Opioid Litigation. The award and principles were developed by a coalition of organizations from across the spectrum of the substance use field and coordinated by faculty from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Last year, Milwaukee County successfully recovered $102 million in opioid litigation settlements, representing the largest amount recovered by any local government in the history of Wisconsin. Milwaukee County is receiving this recognition for deploying the opioid settlement funds effectively and equitably.

“For years, local leaders and organizations across Wisconsin have been on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. The $102 million in opioid settlement funds have the potential to be transformative for our community, helping to save lives from this epidemic and mitigate continued suffering for residents and their loved ones,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “We appreciate this recognition of our efforts. Looking ahead, Milwaukee County is committed to doing all we can to combat the opioid crisis, make the best use of these funds and deliver critical resources into the community – because lives depend on it.”


The Principles serve as a roadmap for state and local policymakers to ensure the effective and equitable utilization of settlement funds:

  1. Spend the Money to Save Lives;
  2. Use Evidence to Guide Spending;
  3. Invest in Youth Prevention;
  4. Focus on Racial Equity; and
  5. Develop a Fair and Transparent Process for Deciding Where to Spend the Funding.


Milwaukee County's achievement stems from its comprehensive approach to utilizing opioid settlement funds. By incorporating all five Principles into its planning process, Milwaukee County created a five-year goal aimed at reducing fatal and non-fatal drug incidents, while addressing racial and ethnic disparities. Prior to allocating funds, the County conducted extensive public listening sessions to prioritize the pressing needs of the community, identifying a crucial need to bridge existing gaps and tackle root causes of health disparities.

All departments within Milwaukee County impacted by the opioid epidemic were invited to participate in the allocation process. Emphasizing its longstanding commitment to achieving racial equity, the County required submitted proposals to address known inequities, aligning with its Vision Statement. An independent panel of experts and individuals with lived experience evaluated and scored each proposal, with priority given to applications targeting historically underserved populations to address racial inequities.

The result was 15 opioid settlement-funded projects that are currently underway. Last year, the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Behavioral Health Services Division placed 11 Harm Reduction Vending Machines throughout Milwaukee County. These vending machines are stocked with free fentanyl test strips, Narcan nasal naloxone, medication lock bags and deactivation pouches, and gun locks. Making these harm reduction tools free and easily accessible has been lifesaving in our community, with over 2,000 boxes of Narcan being utilized by the public from these vending machines.

Learn more about all Milwaukee County opioid settlement-funded projects HERE.




(414) 278-4211 | fax: (414) 223-1375
Milwaukee County Courthouse, Room 306
901 N. 9th Street | Milwaukee, WI 53233

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