USA Today reports: HHS to fund more naloxone programs to halt opioid deaths

According to an article by: Donna Leinwand Leger, USA TODAY:

"With death from heroin and prescription narcotics at epidemic levels, Health and Human Services officials said the department would put more federal money and effort behind programs to distribute naloxone, an overdose-reversal medicine to first responders and family members.

The push for naloxone, which includes an expanded grants program for states to purchase the drug, is part of a new initiative to be announced Thursday by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to reduce deaths from prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, and heroin. Heroin-related overdose deaths increased 39% from 2012 to 2013, and prescription opioids accounted for more than a third of all overdose deaths in 2013.

The HHS effort will focus on curbing overprescribing and inappropriate prescribing of pain pills, expansion of overdose reversal programs, and increasing access to treatment programs that use medication as well as counseling to help addicts.

For years, HHS has funding and pushed for a broad array of programs to combat prescription drug abuse, Richard Frank, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, said.

"What I think is different here, we've decided to put focus on a limited set of areas. We're going to double down on the areas where the evidence suggests we can have significant impact," Frank said.

Police departments, emergency medical technicians and other first responders around the country have begun carrying naloxone, once known by its brand name, Narcan, which can block and reverse the effects of heroin or an opioid painkiller when a user overdoses. The training and medicine can be expensive. States may use substance abuse block grant funding to purchase naloxone. President Obama's budget proposes an additional $12 million in grants to purchase the medicine and equip and train first responders.

 

Frank says HHS wants to drive the money to the states with particularly high overdose rates.

Naloxone programs are a key component of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's National Drug Control Strategy, which has worked with the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track the approval of an auto-injector for naloxone and has created an overdose toolkit for first responders.

"We know that naloxone is saving lives," ONDCP director Michael Botticelli said. Burwell's plan " to increase its use will go a long way toward reducing overdose deaths, which have devastated so many families and communities across the country."

To increase access to treatment, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will provide $12 million in grants to purchase medicine used to treat opioid addiction, such as buprenorphine, and train healthcare providers to use the medicines as part of a treatment program. The president's budget asks for another $13 million to expand the program in 2016.

Click on this image to find out more about contracting with the DHHS

 

The government will also invest $20 million this year and has asked for $45 million next year for prescription drug monitoring programs which track prescriptions for narcotics to prevent addicts from going from doctor to doctor to collect multiple prescriptions. Doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals can access the databases before prescribing. The systems can also identify doctors who may be overprescribing..."

Please see the article in its entirety HERE.