The Biden administration has earmarked $25.6 million to give entities fighting the overdose epidemic drug treatments, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told McClatchy on Tuesday.
The grants are intended to make drug treatment more widely available for opioid use disorders and prescription drug abuse, according to the federal agency. Grants will be available through two new programs under the Ministry’s Addiction and Mental Health Services Administration division.
“Every five minutes, someone in our country dies of an overdose,” Becerra said in an emailed statement. “This is unacceptable.”
More than 104,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in a 12-month period ending September 2021, according to the National Center for Health Statistics — the most in a year on record and a nearly 30% jump from to the previous 12 month period. Synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, caused two-thirds of these deaths.
In California, San Francisco, Nevada, Lake, Mendocino and Kern counties had the highest opioid overdose death rates in 2020, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid that is often embedded in counterfeit pills without the buyer’s knowledge, will claim more Sacramento County residents’ lives than homicides this year, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis.
The two grant programs – the Strategic Prevention Framework for Prescription Drugs, SPF Rx, and Medication Assisted Treatment – Prescription Drug and Opioid Dependence, MAT-PDOA – are open to applicants until 25 and April 29, respectively.
SPF Rx will fund six recipients with $3 million over five years to educate them about the dangers of drug sharing, counterfeit pills and over-prescribing. Recipients must be milestone agencies, territories, or tribal entities that have completed a Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant, available to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, or a similar state plan. Each winner can receive up to $500,000 per year.
The MAT-PDOA will increase and expand access to medications for opioid use disorder to help reduce the abuse of illicit and prescription opioids. Thirty recipients will receive a share of $22.6 million over five years, of which no less than $11 million will go to Native American tribes or tribal organizations. Scholarship recipients can obtain up to $750,000 per year.
“This funding will bolster ongoing efforts across our country to bring help to Americans in need,” said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, who leads SAMHSA. “Expanding access to evidence-based treatments and supports for people with opioid use disorder has never been more critical.”
The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved several drugs to treat opioid use disorder.
Nalaxone is a life-saving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.
Buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone can relieve withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body, according to the FDA.
These alternatives, along with physician-directed therapy, can help reduce addiction to short-acting opioids, such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, and semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
President Joe Biden has called for universal access to these drugs by 2025.
Federal grant programs are just some of the many steps the Biden administration has taken to address addiction and the mental health crisis. The President’s 2022 budget gave the Department of Health and Human Services $10.7 billion in discretionary funding for research, prevention, and treatment services to quell the opioid epidemic; it also donated $621 million to Veterans Affairs’ opioid prevention and treatment programs.
“There are so many things we can do: increase funding for prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery; get rid of outdated rules… that prevent doctors from prescribing treatments; stop the flow of illicit drugs by working with state and local law enforcement to prosecute traffickers,” Biden said in his State of the Union address.
The US Department of Health and Human Services launched a “National Tour to Strengthen Mental Health” after Biden’s State of the Union address.
As part of the national tour, Becerra has visited officials across California over the past week to discuss mental health and addictions challenges and solutions. He traveled from Southern California to the North, discussing closely related issues such as homelessness, abortion access and COVID-19 vaccinations with local leaders.
Becerra, who was California’s attorney general before Biden appointed him to lead the federal agency, said the administration continues to learn about “new and innovative ways” including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. could support local communities struggling with mental health and addiction issues. abuse issues.
The US Department of Health and Human Services has dubbed its approach to reducing nationwide opioid overdoses the Overdose Prevention Strategy.
“Together, through our overdose prevention strategy and national tour to strengthen mental health, we can change the way we approach overdoses and save lives,” Becerra said.
This story was originally published March 15, 2022 8:00 a.m.