CDC Pledges Millions To Fight Opioid Epidemic

By Paul Gaita 09/08/17

The CDC is awarding the crucial funding to 44 states and the District of Columbia.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pledged more than $28 million in funding to assist a number of states and the District of Columbia in combating opioid dependency and overdose.

Expanded funding from the 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill—which included $103 million to fight the opioid epidemic—will let the CDC provide support to prevention and drug monitoring programs, as well as improved toxicology testing for medical examiners and coroners.

The current awards, announced on September 5, come on the heels of $12 million provided by the CDC to state overdose prevention efforts in July, and is part of the Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) strategy for the national opioid problem.

The $28.6 million awarded by the CDC will go to states that are funded through its Overdose Prevention in States (OPiS) program, which includes a trio of programs that provide opioid prevention resources. Those programs—Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States (PfS); Data-Driven Prevention Initiative (DDPI); and Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS)—will distribute the current round of funding to 44 states and the District of Columbia.

Under PfS, $19.3 million in funding will go to 27 states, including California, Kentucky, New Mexico and West Virginia—which has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country—to expand an array of prevention programs, including prescription drug monitoring, and community outreach about the dangers of opioid use. The DDPI will provide $4.6 million to 12 states and Washington, D.C. for similar programs; states receiving those funds include Alaska, Michigan, New Jersey and South Dakota.

Medical examiners and coroners in 32 states and Washington, D.C. will receive $4.7 million to improve their efforts to track and prevent overdoses. All five of the states listed at the top of the CDC's drug overdose death rate list—West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Ohio and Rhode Island—are among the recipients, as well as Delaware, Florida, Maine and Washington, D.C.

The OPiS funding expansion is the first of five components in the DHHS's strategy to push back against the growing number of opioid overdoses in America. The other four, according to the CDC are: targeting availability and distribution of opioid-reversing drugs (like naloxone); improved public health data and reporting on the opioid crisis; greater support for research on pain and addiction; and advancing better practices for pain management.

DHHS Secretary Tom Price said in regard to the funding expansion: "The expansion of these CDC programs, made possible through legislation President Trump signed earlier this year, is an important piece of our commitment to helping states combat the scourge of opioid addiction and overdose."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.