Cantwell Applauds $25.9M in Funding for Washington State to Combat Opioid Crisis, Support Treatment and Prevention

$1.8B in federal funding announced today made possible by 2018 law supported by Cantwell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) announcement of more than $25 million in new federal funding for Washington state to combat the ongoing opioid epidemic. The funding for Washington state is part of more than $1.8 billion in funding announced today by HHS for prevention, treatment, and recovery services, as well as data collection on opioid overdoses.

“The opioid crisis continues to devastate Washington communities, and we need to do all we can to give those on the front lines of this epidemic the tools and resources they need to respond,” Senator Cantwell said. “Today’s announcement of new federal funding to Washington state will support expanded opioid treatment, recovery, and prevention services, and improved opioid data collection.”

The funds announced today were authorized by the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, bipartisan opioid legislation signed into law last year with Senator Cantwell’s support. The bill included Cantwell’s provisions to increase penalties on opioid manufacturers who fail to take reasonable steps to prevent their drugs from entering the black market.

As part of today’s funding announcement, Washington state is receiving $21.5 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support prevention, treatment, and recovery services, and $4.4 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track opioid overdose data.

The opioid and heroin epidemic has devastated communities across the country. From 1999-2017, almost 400,000 people died from an overdose. One hundred forty-five people fatally overdose on opioids or heroin each day, and nearly 650 Washingtonians and 50,000 Americans died of an opioid overdose in 2017 alone. The epidemic also has a significant economic impact, costing the United States at least $78 billion every year.

Throughout the United States, opioid sales nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2014, and by 2012, 259 million opioid prescriptions were being written each year. The massive surge in opioid consumption has also led to increased usage of heroin, with studies showing that nearly 75% of new heroin users become addicted by using prescription opioids.

Today’s announcement comes as Senator Cantwell continues her leadership in helping Washington state respond to the opioid crisis. In February 2018, Cantwell introduced the CARES Act to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for misleading advertising and negligent distribution practices. Later that month, Cantwell joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce CARA 2.0, a comprehensive bill to increase funding for programs providing opioid education, treatment, and recovery. Last October, the president signed into law Cantwell’s provisions to hold drug manufacturers accountable for negligent and misleading distribution practices.