Arkansas awarded over $18.5 million in HHS funds to combat opioid crisis

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 1,041 views 

Arkansas will receive over $18.5 million in federal funds as part of the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to address the ongoing opioid epidemic that led to nearly 450 overdose deaths across the state in 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Wednesday (Sept. 4).

As part of HHS’s strategy to combat the opioid crisis, the federal agency will mete out more than $1.8 billion in funding to states to expand access to treatment and support near real-time data on the drug overdose crisis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is housed within HHS, will hand out more than $900 million in new funding for a three-year cooperative agreement with states, territories, and localities to advance the understanding of the opioid overdose epidemic and to scale-up prevention and response activities, officials said.

The HHS is releasing $301 million in funding for the first year to 47 states, Washington, D.C., 16 localities, and two territories.

In Arkansas, the state Department of Health has been awarded $3,517,401 to help state and local officials track overdose data as closely to real-time as possible and support them in work to prevent overdoses and save lives.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also part of HHS, will award approximately $932 million to all 50 states and U.S. territories as part of its State Opioid Response grants. These grants will provide flexible funding to state governments to support prevention, treatment, and recovery services in the ways that meet the needs of their state.

In addition to the approximately $500 million released earlier this year, SAMHSA the additional $932 million in continuation funding will support the second year of the federal opioid response program in all 50 states. For its part, Arkansas will receive $13,042,210 for the two-year period of the program.

Today, states may report nonfatal data as quickly as every two weeks and report fatal data every six months. Over the past decade, CDC officials said reporting of mortality data has improved substantially, mainly due to improvements in reporting by state vital records offices.

According to the latest CDC data, 70,237 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in 2017 at an age-adjusted rate of 21.7 per 100,000 persons. States with the highest rates of death due to drug overdoses were West Virginia (57.8 per 100,000), Ohio (46.3 per 100,000), Pennsylvania (44.3 per 100,000), the District of Columbia (44.0 per 100,000), and Kentucky (37.2 per 100,000).

Among these, 47,600 of the overdose deaths involved opioids. The sharpest increase occurred among deaths involving fentanyl and fentanyl synthetic narcotics with more than 28,400 overdose deaths in 2017.

By comparison, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in Arkansas was 15.5 per 100,000 in 2017, or 446 deaths. CDC data also shows that Arkansas providers wrote 105.4 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, which is nearly two-fold greater than the average U.S. rate of 58.7 opioid prescriptions.