States Race Against Deadly Opioid Epidemic

Pill Bottle

More than 52,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2015; among those, more than 33,000 involved a prescription or illicit opioid. Standing on the front lines of the U.S. opioid epidemic are state and local emergency response systems. As states like Virginia and Massachusetts declare public health emergencies, they draw on the infrastructure that CDC has helped build nationwide since 9/11 to empower first responders, improve surveillance, and develop critical laboratory tests

CDC’s PHEP funding has been instrumental in sustaining and expanding the Laboratory Response Network-Chemical (LRN-C), which provides critical infrastructure that states can use to address local emergencies and emerging epidemics. The Department of Forensic Sciences, Public Health Laboratory Division, Washington, D.C., has used LRN-C equipment and technical skills to develop tests for new synthetic opioids and assist law enforcement efforts to broaden the classification of illegal chemical substances. CDC’s PHEP funding and expertise complements other CDC activities focused on improving surveillance, scaling up effective public health interventions, and supplying health-care providers and systems with prescribing guidance. CDC’s comprehensive efforts continue to help states counter rising rates of addiction and overdoses as they face this crippling epidemic head-on.