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Overdose Deaths Drop Sharply in States Hard Hit by Opioid Crisis (1)

Oct. 30, 2019, 2:44 PMUpdated: Oct. 30, 2019, 8:52 PM

The nation’s deadly opioid epidemic shows signs of ebbing as the Trump administration Oct. 30 reported a 5.1% drop in overdose deaths, with sharper declines in some of the most hard-hit states.

The administration saw a 5.1% decrease in overdose deaths in 2018, including a 24% reduction in Ohio, 17% in Kentucky, and 9% in West Virginia, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said in a call with reporters.

Over 72,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2017, and 40,000 of those were caused by opioid overdoses, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Curbing the deadly epidemic has been a top priority for President Donald Trump.

Administration officials also reported declines in overdose deaths in Pennsylvania (23%), Iowa (19%), and New Hampshire (11%).

The administration is also seeing an 378% increase in prescriptions of the overdose reversal drug naloxone, a 31% decrease in opioid prescriptions, and a 28% increase in the amount of people receiving medication-assisted treatment, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on the call.

Medication-assisted treatment combines medication and behavioral therapy in helping people recover from opioid use disorder.

The officials’ remarks came as they also touted the relaunch of a government website aimed at helping patients and their families find treatment for substance use disorder.

The website, findtreatment.gov, can be customized to the type of insurance a patient has and the type of treatment patients need. It includes information on programs with special ability to help veterans and LGBT people.

The tool only includes facilities that are licensed and regulated by the states, a senior administration official said on the call.

It will also include information about addiction, mental illness, and understanding the cost of treatment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shira Stein in Washington at sstein@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Brent Bierman at bbierman@bloomberglaw.com