NC to Receive Federal Funding for Opioid Overdose Prevention
North Carolina is one of 16 states that will receive funds through a federal program intended to help states end the ongoing prescription drug overdose epidemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide about $20 million in funding through the Prevention for States program, aimed at expanding resources that can help prevent overdose deaths related to prescription painkillers.
Through a competitive application process, CDC selected 16 states to receive funds through the program: Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
Subject to the availability of funds, the CDC plans to give states annual awards between $750,000 and $1 million for the next four years.
Funds can be used to enhance existing prescription drug monitoring programs, encourage education of providers and patients about the risk of overdose, and respond to emerging issues through innovative projects.
Since painkiller abuse is commonly thought to be a precursor to heroin abuse, states can also use the funding to better understand and respond to the increase in heroin overdose deaths and research the link between painkillers and heroin use.
North Carolina is hardly the only state with an opioid problem. The CDC says that since 1999 overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers has quadrupled, with more than 16,000 people dying in 2013. In 2013, there were more than 8,000 heroin overdose deaths, a nearly three-fold increase since just 2010.
While the amount of painkillers prescribed and sold in the U.S. has increase four-fold since 1999, there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.
"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," Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement. "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."