CDC launches $900M effort to improve drug overdose data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing more than $900 million to help state, territorial, county and city health departments get better drug overdose data.

Under a new three-year cooperative agreement announced on Wednesday, the CDC is funding surveillance activities around the country to monitor and gather data about the scope and nature of the drug overdose problem.

CDC’s Overdose Data to Action initiative will support the work of 47 states and the District of Columbia, two territories, as well as 16 counties and cities nationwide. Initially, the CDC is releasing $301 million for the first year of the effort with the rest of the funding to follow in subsequent years.

“Strengthening our nation’s public health infrastructure is essential to capturing the predictive data needed to prevent drug overdose deaths and their devastating effects on families,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, in a written statement. “We are committed to supporting our partners and communities, ensuring they have the tools needed to bring the opioid and drug use disorder epidemic to an end in America.”

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The goal of the effort is to acquire “high-quality, more comprehensive and timelier data on overdose morbidity and mortality,” according to the CDC.

“Over the past decade, reporting of mortality data has improved substantially, mainly due to improvements in reporting by state vital records offices,” states the agency’s announcement. “CDC has worked diligently to provide financial and technical assistance to help improve the quality, timeliness and specificity of surveillance data in states and communities across the nation, and these funds will continue to support this critical work. States may report nonfatal data as quickly as every two weeks and report fatal data every six months.”

Specifically, the states and jurisdictions receiving funding through the Overdose Data to Action initiative will collect and disseminate emergency department data on suspected overdoses categorized as “all drug,” “all opioid,” “heroin” and “all stimulant”—as well as collect and disseminate descriptions of drug overdose death circumstances using death certificates, toxicology reports, medical examiner and coroner reports.

In addition, the CDC contends that the “prevention component of this cooperative agreement will position recipients to strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs, improve state-local integration, establish linkages to care, and improve provider and health system support.”

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