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States to receive federal funds to combat opioid misuse

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a $20 million initiative to combat the opioid epidemic at the state level.

The Prevention for States program will provide 16 states, which were selected through an application process, with the resources and expertise needed to help prevent overdose deaths related to prescription opioids, the agency said Friday in a statement.

Over the next four years, Arizona, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin will receive annual awards between $750,000 and $1 million, according to the statement.

They were chosen from among 34 states that applied to take part in the program, a CDC spokeswoman said in an email. In addition to considering states' drug overdose death rates, an objective panel reviewed each applicant's proposed approach and the state's organizational capacity to implement and evaluate it, she added.

“The (fiscal) 2016 budget includes funding that would expand the program to all 50 states and Washington, D.C.,” the spokeswoman said.

The funds will go toward enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs, educating health care providers and patients about the risk of prescription drug overdose and working with health systems and insurers to help them make informed decisions, the statement says.

The participating states will be monitored and evaluated, as “results and project successes will determine the impact of this program and inform future state and national efforts in preventing prescription drug overdoses,” the CDC says on its Prevention for States webpage.

“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,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in the statement. “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.”