ERIE COUNTY N.Y. (WIVB) – Local governments in Western New York will soon start to receive the first payouts from opioid lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Western New York will receive nearly $13 million.

“These funds are the result of our litigation against big pharma, for the devastation and the destruction they have caused not only in New York but all across this nation,” she said Tuesday during a Zoom news conference, adding that the money will be put to good use.

“These funds will go directly into treatment, prevention and education efforts,” she said. “These funds will have an immediate impact.”

A little more than $8 million of those funds will go to Erie County, while the city of Buffalo will receive 582-thousand dollars.

“The resources provided from the resettlements will be helpful in our efforts to battle opioid addiction in the city of Buffalo,” said Mayor Byron Brown.

“This is a settlement that is fair for the people of our state,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “The dollars will be used to stop drugs from coming into our community, and to help those who are addicted get off their drugs so they can once again live their best lives possible.”

Poloncarz said the county did see a rise in opioid-related deaths during the pandemic. He said prior to the pandemic, the county’s numbers were declining. He wants the county to get back to seeing fewer opioid deaths, and said these funds can help the county get there.

“We are doing better than we were in early 2020 and early 2021, but we’d like to get back to the point where we were a few years ago, in which we were declining in overdoses and deaths,” he said. “The reason that happened is because of a unified effort by all on the state level and the local level to address this in every way possible and we’re going to continue working hard to make certain that, that older trend continues.”

James said $197 million will be distributed statewide and the funds represent payments for just this year, and that there is more money to come.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.