by Ahmed Abul-Enein
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will announce on Friday nearly $1.5 billion in funding for access to drugs for opioid overdoses, penalties against traffickers, and increased funding for law enforcement, the White House said.
The Biden administration is keen to show it is taking action on the worsening nationwide opioid crisis, which according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention led to more than 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021, an increase of nearly 15% from the year Previous.
“Our nation faces 108,000 overdose deaths in just 12 months. That’s one life lost every five minutes around the clock,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of national drug policy at the White House.
“The Biden-Harris administration is announcing several key investments and actions to reduce overdose deaths, ensure frontline public health and law enforcement officials have the resources they need, support people in recovery, and finally beat this pandemic,” Gupta told reporters. In a press call.
Miriam Delphine Ritmon, assistant secretary of mental health and substance abuse, said Biden will announce nearly $1.5 billion in grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to states, tribal lands and territories.
Delphine Ritmon said the money will go to treat substance use disorders and remove barriers to using key tools such as naloxone, a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses.
The grants will also fund recovery support services, overdose education efforts, peer support specialists in emergency departments, and care for stimulant use and abuse disorders including cocaine and methamphetamine, she added.
Gupta said the FDA will issue new guidance to ease restrictions on naloxone.
Currently, there are legal barriers that limit access to naloxone in some states, and in others, it is not always available to people at high risk of overdose because patients are more likely to receive a prescription if they have a prior diagnosis of opioid abuse or dependence. With an overdose than if they had those diagnoses without an overdose.
Biden also announced an additional $12 million in funding for law enforcement in areas with the worst drug trade, in addition to the $275 million announced in April, and penalties for individuals and groups involved in drug cartels.