CDC Combats Opioid Crisis With Health, Prescription Data
THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE AND Prevention is trying to help stem the tide of opioid overdoses nationwide through its public health data collection and reporting, as well as improvements to state-run electronic databases for tracking prescriptions.
CDC is “funding an opioid surveillance program collecting timely data on both fatal and non-fatal overdoses so we can pinpoint resources and responses where needed most,” Debra Houry, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, told a Senate appropriations subcommittee.
According to Houry, CDC “has been on the front lines” of the crisis ever since it first identified the increase in opioid overdose deaths in 2004, and “since then, the agency has applied its scientific expertise to track the epidemic and develop evidence-based prevention strategies.” Nonetheless, she acknowledged that the opioid epidemic is “one of the few public health problems that is getting worse instead of better,” with drug overdoses nearly tripling over the past two decades.
Still, Houry testified that the CDC’s Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS) is leveraging emergency department and emergency medical services data to better track and analyze morbidity data. She told lawmakers that the agency is improving public health data collection and reporting to better understand the opioid crisis.
“We have improved reporting of overdose deaths from a lag of two years to seven months,” Houry testified. “As part of CDC’s funding to states, we’ve implemented a program to get more reliable and timely data from emergency rooms, medical examiners and coroners.”
She noted that the CDC funds 45 states and Washington, DC, to implement strategies to prevent opioid overdoses and improve state-run prescription drug monitoring programs.