Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a three-year, $50 million commitment in support of efforts to address the opioid epidemic in the United States.
Announced at the inaugural Bloomberg American Health Summit in Washington, D.C., the funding will support a partnership between Vital Strategies, the Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University, and the CDC Foundation aimed at helping up to ten states with high rates of opioid use implement solutions designed to address the root causes of opioid addiction and save lives. With a focus on identifying novel approaches as well as gaps in current treatment and prevention programs, the initiative will draw on initial learnings to create replicable products and guidelines that can be used in other states, creating a model for the rest of the nation. To that end, the partner organizations will work closely with states and experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, academia, and elsewhere to evaluate and track the impact of new interventions and embed staff in government agencies, where they will support state- and local-led interventions.
According to new CDC data, there were 70,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017 — more than 47,000 from opioid overdoses, or nearly a hundred and thirty per day — while more than two million people are currently addicted to opiods. Pennsylvania — which had the highest number of drug overdose deaths in 2017, some 5,400 — will be the first state to participate in the initiative and will receive at least $10 million in funding.
"We are experiencing a national crisis," said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the World Health Organization’s global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases. "For the first time since World War I, life expectancy in the U.S. has declined over the past three years — and opioids are a big reason why. We cannot sit by and allow this alarming trend to continue — not when so many Americans are being killed in what should be the prime of their lives."
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