County of Marin - News Releases - Overdose Prevention

For Immediate Release
March 28, 2023

Opioid Settlement Funds to Target Overdose Prevention

More than $7 million over nine years dedicated to strategies and treatment

San Rafael, CA – Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis updated the Board of Supervisors on March 28 about the state of the local opioid crisis and outlined strategies to reduce fatal overdoes in Marin in 2023.

This year’s strategies are centered around OD Free Marin, a broad coalition dedicated to reducing the risk of drug overdoses. The coalition coordinates county-wide strategies and includes Marin County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Public Health, health care providers, schools, and community members.

Dr. Matt Willis speaking with microphoneMarin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said he is pleased that 'the industry that helped create this crisis is funding some of the solutions.'

Willis concluded his presentation with a training on how to use Narcan, a life-saving nasal spray that stops an overdose as it is happening.


  • Marin County averages one fatal overdose each week.
  • Marin overdose deaths doubled in the past three years.
  • After cancer and heart disease, accidental drug overdose is the third most common cause of death among Marin residents under age 75.
  • Fentanyl, a high potency opioid, is driving the increase in overdoses.

OD Free Marin focuses on community education, overdose prevention, and connecting people with substance use disorders to mental health, recovery and treatment programs. Expanding these programs is part of the initial investment of Marin County’s opioid settlement funds.

Marin County will receive $800,000 annually for nine years from settlements with pharmaceutical companies for downplaying the addictive and potentially lethal impacts of prescription opioids. In 2021, Marin joined a nationwide lawsuit against opioid manufacturer Johnson and Johnson and the largest pharmaceutical opioid distributors: McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, and Cardinal Health. Additional settlements with three pharmacy chains — CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart — and two additional manufacturers — Allergan and Teva – are still pending.

Prescriptions for opioid painkillers, once the primary contributor to opioid overdoses, have decreased over 300% since 2015 in Marin. OD Free Marin’s work reflects a changing overdose landscape, particularly the increase in deaths due to the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

“It’s good that the industry that helped create this crisis is funding some of the solutions,” Willis said. “This money will help us save lives. The crisis is getting worse nationally and in our own backyard.

“It hits home. So many of us have a family member, a friend, or a colleague touched by overdose.”

Those interested in the OD Free Marin initiative are encouraged to:


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website