WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Funding in the amount of $20 million has been made available to help 16 US states combat a prescription drug overdose epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said in a press release on Friday.
"The "Prescription Drug Overdose" program, as part of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Opioid Initiative, will make a strong investment in 16 states, giving them the resources and expertise… to help prevent overdose deaths related to prescription opioids," the release read.
The program, the release explained, builds upon the infrastructure of CDC’s Prevention Boost and Core Violence and Injury Prevention programs.
The funds will be supplied to agencies in the states of Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin, according to the release.
"With this funding, states can improve their ability to track the problem, work with insurers to help providers make informed prescribing decisions, and take action to combat this epidemic," CDC Secretary Sylvia Burwell said.
Over the next four years, the CDC plans to provide the 16 states annual awards between $750,000 and $1 million each year to maintain the programs, the release added.
President Barack Obama’s budget for 2016 includes a request from Burwell for the resources needed to expand CDC’s state efforts to all 50 states, and to launch a national program that will focus on prevention and prescription drug overdose surveillance, the release noted.
Since 1999, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled in the United States and more than 16,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses in 2013. More than 8,000 Americans died from heroin-related causes in 2013.
The Centers for Disease Control works with US states, communities and prescribers to prevent opioid misuse and overdose by tracking and monitoring the epidemic and helping states create effective programs.