Attorney General Phil Weiser has appointed former Thornton Mayor Heidi Williams to be his office’s director of opioid response.

“Heidi’s local government experience, her listening skills, and opioid strategy experience — as well our office’s community engagement focus — will be crucial,” Weiser said.

Williams will be in charge of a new Opioid Abuse Impact Team, as well as coordinating community outreach on the topic on behalf of Weiser. During her time as mayor, she chaired the Metro Mayors Caucus, the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, and the E-470 Highway Authority Board of Directors. She is also a former school board member.

In July, Weiser expanded a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the drug manufacturer caught up in national litigation over its role in the opioid crisis, to include individual owners and former executives for fraudulent and reckless conduct.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement that Weiser is “committed to directing all funds that the state obtains from opioid litigation judgments or negotiated settlements to drug treatment, recovery and education and prevention programs.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in 2017, 578 Coloradans died from opioid use. While the rate of opioid deaths was less than the national average, there was a nearly 500% increase from 2010 to 2017 in heroin deaths in Colorado.

Weiser’s lawsuit against Purdue Pharma alleges that the company distributed misleading studies about opioids’ effectiveness and ignored warnings from experts about their harm.

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