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Health, Science & Tech

Local U.S. Atty. Has Praise for Obama’s Budget Boost to Fight Opioid Overdose

More people died from drug overdoses in 2013 than from either gunshot wounds or vehicle crashes.

In response, President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal includes $133 million in new funding across various agencies and departments to treat opioid disorders and prevent overdose deaths.

David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, called opioid overdose an “urgent public health crisis.”

“We recognize that even with enhanced law enforcement efforts, which are underway here and other districts, we cannot prosecute our way out of this problem,” Hickton said.

He said they need to be as vigilant at attacking the demand side of opioid use as they are in attacking the supply side by dismantling illegal drug organizations.

“The president’s budget will increase our ability to track and monitor prescriptions to prevent excessive prescribing, which is a major factor in this epidemic,” Michael Botticelli, Office of National Drug Control Policy director, said. “And it will make sure people who are struggling with an opioid use disorder get access to the care that they will need to get well – especially medication-assisted treatment, which is a standard of care for the treatment of opioid disorders.”

One of the agencies receiving funds is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Forty-eight million in funding is going to help CDC help strengthen state-level prescription drug overdose prevention, including a major expansion of the ‘Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States’ program to support efforts to reduce overdoses from opioids,” Ileana Arias, CDC deputy director, said.

She said the grants would help increase universal reporting for all controlled substances.

Arias added that the CDC is also going to make sure current policies are evaluated.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) would receive $12 million for a new program that provides grants to ten states to help reduce overdose-related deaths.

Pamela Hyde, SAMHSA administrator, said this would go towards helping states purchase naloxone, the medication used to reverse overdoses, as well as equipping and training first responders in high-risk communities.

“It would also support education on the use of naloxone and other overdose prevention strategies,” Hyde said. “And also cover some of the expenses of dissemination of SAMSA’s Opioid Overdose Toolkit.”