The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be launching a new program, Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention, for a pilot group of 16 states: Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin. These specific states were chosen after a competitive application process, and will be the recipients of millions in funding toward programming to enhance education, awareness, prevention, and tracking of prescription drug overdoses.
The CDC has committed $20 million for this fiscal year in order to get the program up and running in the select group of states. Over the next few years, each of the 16 states will receive between $750,000 and $1 million annually. With this funding, states will begin to:
- Enhance their existing prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs).
- Implement community prevention and education programs.
- Collaborate with and educate health systems, insurance companies, and clinicians to help them make more informed prescribing decisions.
- Lead innovative projects on the full spectrum of awareness, prevention, and intervention.
The CDC is also allowing states to use the funds to do more research around the use and abuse of heroin in response to the ever-growing epidemic: just between 2010 and 2013 there has been a threefold increase in the number of deaths involving heroin.
At the same time, the amount of opioids prescribed and sold in the U.S. has increased fourfold since 1999 even though there is no overall change in the amount of pain reported by Americans. States will be able research the relationship between opioid abuse and heroin use and better respond to the increase in heroin overdose deaths.
The potential benefit from this program is tremendous, and we can only hope that the Department of Health and Human Services extends these funding grants to more states over time.