Opioid Abuse Countermeasures Coming Soon from HHS

Responding to the growing number of deaths related to prescription opioid overdose, the US Department of Health and Human Services recently announced new opioid abuse countermeasures.

Responding to the growing number of deaths related to prescription opioid overdose, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced new opioid abuse countermeasures.

Prescription painkillers have become increasingly implicated in drug overdose deaths in the last decade, with approximately 37% of overdose deaths in 2013 involving opioids, according to an HHS press release.

In light of those alarming statistics, HHS outlined 3 particular areas in which it plans to focus its anti-opioid efforts: training and educating health professionals, increasing the use and availability of naloxone, and expanding the use of medication-assisted treatment.

“Opioid drug abuse is a devastating epidemic facing our nation. I have seen firsthand, in my home state of West Virginia—a state struggling with this very real crisis, the impact of opioid addiction,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell in a press release. “That’s why I’m taking a targeted approach to tackling this issue focused on prevention, treatment, and intervention…We need all stakeholders to come together to fight the opioid epidemic.”

The announcement closely followed the launch of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States program, which was developed to provide state health departments with resources to improve their abuse-prevention measures. While the program’s initial funding will only support up to 16 states, HHS’s 2016 budget allows the program to expand in all 50 states and Washington, DC.