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Public HealthCombating the Opioid Epidemic

Combating the Opioid Epidemic

In 2019, the U.S. had more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths. Of these deaths, almost 50,000 involved opioids — more than guns or car crashes. Bloomberg Philanthropies is working to save lives by making a catalytic $50 million investment aimed at reversing the trend of opioid overdose deaths and creating state models that other funders and policy makers can follow to help address the epidemic.

We are experiencing a national crisis: 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. 

Michael R. Bloomberg

Bloomberg Opioids Prevention Network

The Bloomberg Opioids Prevention Network is working with states to combat the opioid epidemic and create best practices that can be replicated around the country. To make progress and save lives, the initiative focuses on three pillars to develop effective models for states to learn from:

Strategy 1: Develop and implement a set of comprehensive evidence-based interventions in two of the hardest-hit states, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

These states have seen particularly high rates of opioid overdose; Bloomberg Philanthropies has launched deep partnerships with them to create programs and implement policies to reduce overdose deaths. This work includes:

  • Providing expertise to improve prescription drug data systems to reduce overprescribing
  • Working with law enforcement and criminal justice system to promote treatment over incarceration
  • Developing communications strategies to reduce stigma around addiction
  • Treating those with addiction disorders by expanding medication-assisted treatment and using naloxone to reverse overdoses
  • Expanding access to needle-exchange sites
  • Developing better data systems to improve response through enhanced data sharing between health and law enforcement
  • Monitoring and evaluating effectiveness to improve programmatic response
  • Embedding staff to provide technical expertise and implementation support with interventions

This collaboration with Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies will allow us to take an in-depth look at the areas where we can supplement our programs to successfully assist more Pennsylvanians. I want to see an end to opioid use disorder in Pennsylvania, and this is a step in the right direction. 

Tom Wolf, Governor of Pennsylvania

Strategy 2: Provide technical support in eight additional states.

In these states, Bloomberg Philanthropies is providing lighter-touch support and advising to help them make progress. This support includes providing public health policy recommendations and light implementation to help reduce opioid overdose deaths.

Strategy 3: Develop tools and guidelines.

As part of a commitment to share what works and spread effective strategies, Bloomberg Philanthropies is working to develop tools and guidelines on a wide range of topics to support all states — not just those where the initiative is working directly. These guidelines cover a wide array of topics, including adopting coordinated data systems, implementing hospital-based treatment standards, developing naloxone distribution recommendations, and providing medication-assisted treatment in jails and prisons.

Top photo: Mike Bloomberg joins Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Eastpointe, Michigan to announce the Bloomberg Opioid Prevention Network.