On October 13 the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released provisional death data showing a record number of 99,106 overdose deaths in the 12-month period ending March.
This is a 31% increase from the prior 12-month period ending in March 2020.
Regina LaBelle, acting assistant director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said this information is “a reminder of how urgent it is for Congress to fully fund President Biden’s budget request to expand access to substance use prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services,” in addition to reducing the supply of drugs (illicit fentanyl is responsible for most of the overdose deaths).
LaBelle also stressed that states should be allowed to seek reimbursement for Medicaid-eligible individuals who are incarcerated. This would increase reduce the risk of overdose deaths when they are released.
So far, the Biden-Harris administration has:
- invested almost $4 billion via the American Rescue Plan to allow the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to treatment,
- released the Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder which allow health care providers to treat up to 30 patients without obtaining a waiver,
- lifted a decade-long moratorium on mobile methadone, a rule change that allows brick-and-mortar OTPs to have mobile methadone vans,
- announced that federal funds can be used to purchase fentanyl test strips, and
- expanded access to harm reduction services.
In addition, the President’s budget request includes more than $500 million to expand research, prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, with targeted investments to meet the needs of populations at greatest risk for overdose and substance use disorder.
For the most recent CDC overdose death data, go to https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm