Prescription drug overdoses are an epidemic in the United States.
That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which today launched a program to combat it.
"Since 1999, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled in the U.S.," states a release from the CDC. "More than 16,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses in 2013.
"Heroin deaths have also been on the rise, with more than 8,000 overdose deaths involving heroin in 2013 — a nearly three-fold increase since 2010," the CDC said.
"The amount of opioids prescribed and sold in the United States has increased four-fold since 1999, but there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report."
$20 million has been committed to advancing prevention, according to a release from the CDC. The program will aid 16 states with resources and expertise to help prevent overdose deaths related to prescription drugs.
The CDC chose these states through a competitive application process, according to the release.
“The prescription drug overdose epidemic requires a multifaceted approach, and states are key partners in our efforts on the front lines to prevent overdose deaths,” said Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “With this funding, states can improve their ability to track the problem, work with insurers to help providers make informed prescribing decisions, and take action to combat this epidemic.”
The CDC plans to give annual awards of $750,000 to $1 million to the states each year if funds are available. The release said the program's areas of focus are:
— Enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs
— Putting prevention into action in communities nationwide and encouraging education of providers and patients about the risk of prescription drug overdose
— Working with health systems, insurers and professional providers to help them make informed decisions about prescribing pain medication.
— Responding to new and emerging drug overdose issues through innovative projects, including developing new surveillance systems or communications campaigns