New Jesey-based state government reporter Geoff Mulvihill broke the news that a $200 million fund intended to help opioid addicts has been sitting unused for more than a year.
Mulvihill has maintained his sourcing and has watched legal developments in various opioids cases, even during a year focused on the coronavirus and U.S. elections. His attention to the opioids beat paid off with an exclusive story revealing that as part of its bankruptcy case, Purdue Pharma had set aside $200 million to help local communities and nonprofits serve people addicted to opioids. Yet more than a year after the fund was established, not a penny had been spent because state attorneys general and lawyers representing local governments couldn’t agree on who should be in charge of distributing the money.
Advocates for addiction treatment were outraged, as the opioid crisis has only grown worse over the past two years. One lawyer representing overdose victims called it “a tragedy of epic proportions” that the money had not been spent.
Mulvihill’s story was complemented by strong portraits by photographer Steve Helber in Richmond, Virginia, of a woman who lost her twin brother to addiction and who criticized the state attorneys general for blocking the money’s release.