Federal officials last week awarded a $3.7 million grant to the California Department of Public Health to help prevent misuse of prescribed opioid medications.
According to the state’s Public Health department, more than 4,000 Californians died in 2013 from drug poisoning, most of them from prescription drugs. The majority of those misused drugs were opioids.
According to the CDC, nationally more than 16,000 Americans died of drug overdoses that year.
“People often associate drug abuse with illegal drugs, but this effort targets the misuse of drugs that were prescribed for pain management,” said Karen Smith, director of DPH and the State Health Officer, in a written statement.
The grant, awarded to California and 15 other states, will help fund efforts to educate consumers, pharmacists and prescribing providers about the dangers of opioid painkillers.
The Department of Health Care Services and the Department of Justice are partners in the grant implementation. The prevention proposal stemmed from a state multi-agency workgroup on opioid misuse convened last year.
In November 2014, state officials at the Medical Board of California issued prescribing guidelines for pain medications, which emphasized using those medications on a trial basis, rather than as a continuing prescription.
Last year, federal officials announced a goal to reduce prescription drug misuse and abuse by 15%, called the President’s Challenge.