From Manas Mishra and Tamara Mathias
(Reuters) – US health officials said on Thursday they would spend $ 350 million in four states to study ways to better cope with the country's opiate crisis, with the goal of reducing overdose deaths by 40 percent. three years in selected communities in these states.
The National Institutes of Health will grant donations to research sites in Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins told a news conference to reveal the plan. They go to the University of Kentucky, Boston Medical Center, Columbia University and Ohio State University.
Prescription treatments for opioid drugs and drugs such as heroin and the more potent fentanyl accounted for 47,600 deaths in the US in 2017, according to government data, with only a small decline last year, according to provisional data.
The plan calls for research centers to work with at least 15 communities hard hit by the crisis to measure how integrating prevention, treatment and recovery interventions can reduce overdoses.
They are expected to examine how behavioral health, unemployment, and the criminal justice system contribute to the crisis and measure the effectiveness of various prevention and treatment methods, such as distributing overdose drugs to schools, police and other rescuers.
"The most important work to combat the opiate crisis in our country is happening in local communities," said US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.
"We believe this effort will show that a truly dramatic and material reduction of overdose deaths is possible, as well as providing lessons and models for other communities to adopt and imitate," said Azar.
He said the funding planned for the study will not be affected by any cuts in the NIH budget.
"We are in such a time of crisis that we need to know in real time what is working and what is not working," said Dr. Alysse Wurcel of Tufts Medical Center in Boston who is a member of the opioid Society of Infectious Diseases of America.
The study is being conducted in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which provides support for local services in support of prevention, treatment and recovery. (Reporting by Manas Mishra, Tamara Mathias and Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru, editing by Bill Berkrot)
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