The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will spend $20 million in 16 states to reduce opioid overdoses, UPI reports.
Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. In 2013, more than 16,000 people died of prescription opioid overdoses in the United States, according to the CDC. In addition, more than 8,000 people died of heroin overdoses that year. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled.
"The prescription drug overdose epidemic is tragic and costly, but can be reversed," CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a news release. "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."
The CDC will provide funding to Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
The program will focus on improving prescription drug monitoring programs and increasing education and prevention efforts in communities. The CDC will work with doctors and health systems to help them make better decisions for patients, and to investigate the connection between prescription opioid abuse and rising heroin use.
The CDC will award states between $750,000 and $1 million each year over the next four years. President Obama's 2016 budget proposal includes a request to expand the program to all states.