New CDC Program Funds States to Help Prescription Drug Overdose Epidemic

SEPTEMBER 08, 2015
Caitlyn Fitzpatrick
Every day 46 people in the United States die from a prescription painkiller overdose. As part of its effort to combat this startling epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will soon launch a comprehensive prevention program.

This comes at a crucial time, as a recent report covered by MD Magazine revealed that physicians do not understand the pain medication crisis. The initiative, called Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States, will provide $20 million spread across 16 states that were chosen by the CDC after an application process. Each state will receive between $750,000 and $1 million every year for the next four years in order to access resources to fight the prescription opioids abuse epidemic. Although only certain states will be receiving funds for program, this could soon be implemented nationwide.

The 16 states that will begin the program in fiscal year 2015 are:
  • Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin
“The prescription drug overdose epidemic requires a multifaceted approach, and states are key partners in our efforts on the front lines to prevent overdose deaths,” Sylvia M. Burwell, secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a news release.

The CDC statement went on to outline key areas the funds will go towards, including:
  • Enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs)
  • Further enforcing preventive measures within communities nationwide
  • Educating healthcare providers and patients about the risk of prescription drug overdoses
  • Improving prescribing decisions throughout health systems, insurers, and providers
  • Developing new surveillance systems or campaigns
The states can use the funds to investigate the relationship between prescription drugs and the rise in heroin overdose deaths as well. While the prescription drug problem is on a national scale, officials believe that it can be reversed. A request to expand the program to all 50 states has already been submitted for the President’s Budget for 2016.

“Because we can protect people from becoming addicted to opioids, we must take fast action now, with real-time tracking programs, safer prescribing practices, and rapid response. Reversing this epidemic will require programs in all 50 states,” explained CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH.

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