United States government offers states $2bn to curb opioid crisis

US Department of Health and Human Services will contribute funds to treat overdose victims and collect nationwide data.

    The administration of US President Donald Trump has pledged more resources to combat the opioid epidemic [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]
    The administration of US President Donald Trump has pledged more resources to combat the opioid epidemic [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

    The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has said it will give states more than $1.8bn in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic.

    The funds will be used to expand access to treatments for opioid overdosing and to gather case data from across states, HHS said on Wednesday.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will spend $900m over three years, including about $301m in the first year.

    The money would help states and territories track overdose data as closely as possible, said HHS in a statement. 

    Meanwhile, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a unit of HHS, is awarding about $932m to support prevention, treatment and recovery services.

    Prescription opioid pain treatments and drugs such as heroin - and the more potent fentanyl - were responsible for 47,600 US fatalities in 2017, according to the government. There was only a small decline in the death toll last year.

    Drugmakers such as Purdue Pharma LP and Johnson & Johnson are facing major lawsuits brought by states, counties and municipalities that seek to hold the companies responsible for opioid abuse nationwide.

    Meanwhile, a US judge on Tuesday rejected efforts by major drugmakers, pharmacies and distributors to dismiss claims that they caused the nation's opioid crisis, clearing the way for a landmark trial even as the judge pushes for a nationwide settlement.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency