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HHS doles out more than $1 billion in grants to various HHS orgs to fight opioid epidemic

Largest sum went to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to focus on increasing access to medication-assisted treatment.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

The Department of Health and Human Services has more than $1 billion in grants specifically aimed at combating the opioid crisis that was responsible for killing a 130 people every day in 2017 alone.

The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which was conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, showed a 50 percent drop in the number of Americans initiating heroin use from 2016 to 2017 and a drop in the number of Americans misusing opioids for the second consecutive year, in concert with a rise in those receiving specialty treatment for heroin use.

Additionally, from January 2017 through August 2018, the amount of opioids prescribed in America had dropped by 21 percent and the number of filled naloxone prescriptions rose by 264 percent. The number of prescriptions for buprenorphine, one form of medication-assisted treatment, went up 16 percent, HHS said.

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The $1 billion plus in funds comes through several large grants to particular groups that all fall under HHS. First, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded more than $930 million in State Opioid Response grants, which focus on increasing access to medication-assisted treatment using the three FDA-approved medications and providing prevention, treatment and recovery activities for opioid use disorder.

Fifteen percent was set aside for the ten states with the highest mortality rate related to drug overdose deaths. Other funding provided through this program, including $50 million for tribal communities, will be awarded separately.

SAMHSA also will dole out roughly $90 million to other programming meant to expand access to medication-assisted treatment, boost distribution and use of overdose reversal drugs and increase "workforce development activities."

The CDC will award $194 million to increase support for states and territories working to prevent opioid-related overdoses, deaths, and other outcomes and another $155 million from the CDC will go to increasing the understanding of the opioid overdose epidemic and prevention and response activities, including faster and better quality of public health surveillance data.

CDC awarded $12 million in funds to support 11 Tribal Epidemiology Centers and 15 tribal entities to better address the crisis in tribal communities and an additional $27 million to a handful of non-governmental organizations to support states and territories with staffing, procurement, and training to enhance local public health capacity.

Finally, the Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $396 million to enable expansion of access to integrated substance use disorder and mental health services in HRSA-funded community health centers, academic institutions, and rural organizations.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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