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One Year After Releasing its Groundbreaking Overdose Prevention Strategy, HHS Announces New Data Showing Nation Has Expanded its Ability to Treat Addiction and Save Lives

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
News release (SAMHSA)
December 2, 2022


HHS also announces new actions to build on this progress

Today, at the Whitman-Walker Health Center in Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra marked the one-year anniversary of HHS’s Overdose Prevention Strategy (Strategy) by announcing the progress the nation has made since the release of the Strategy, showing expanded treatment capacity, lives saved from overdose, and commitment to long term recovery supports. Secretary Becerra also highlighted one recent action, and announced another new action taken by HHS to build on this groundbreaking progress by expanding access to the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. The Overdose Prevention Strategy helps advance President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy and his Unity Agenda to beat the overdose epidemic.

“Now, one year after the release of this Strategy, our nation is in a much stronger position to treat addiction and save lives,” Secretary Becerra said. “We didn’t get here by accident. Thanks to decades of work by advocates – coupled with an unparalleled people-first strategy and unprecedented investment by the Biden-Harris Administration – we have made a great deal of progress.” 

"Deaths caused by opioids like illicit fentanyl are preventable with naloxone, and today’s announcement means more life-saving naloxone will be in communities across the country,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “The latest data continue to show a hopeful trend of a decrease in overdose deaths, so we must remain focused on fully implementing President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy that will save tens of thousands of lives by expanding care for substance use disorder, making naloxone more accessible, and dismantling drug trafficking operations.”

Since the release of the Strategy last fall, the nation has dramatically increased its capacity to treat addiction. The number of health care providers with waivers to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) increased by 19% over the last year (from 110,491 providers in October of 2021 to 132,005 providers in September 2022). According to an HHS-authored research study that was released today, this increase was linked in part to HHS’s efforts over the past year to remove barriers for clinicians seeking to obtain a waiver. HHS is committed to continuing efforts to remove barriers for individuals that are seeking treatment.

The nation has also increased its capacity to save lives from overdose since the release of the strategy. The number of naloxone prescriptions filled in pharmacies has increased by 37% (from a 3-month average of 109,414 prescriptions in October 2021 to 150,213 in August 2022), and the average price of naloxone products purchased in pharmacies has fallen 12%. This means that it’s now easier for people to access this lifesaving overdose reversal drugs so that they can help save a life.

As Secretary Becerra announced during the press conference, HHS will continue to build on the Overdose Prevention Strategy with new actions:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that every state, local, and territorial awardee of the CDC Overdose Data to Action cooperative agreement can use a portion of their funds to purchase naloxone, giving public health departments robust access to naloxone.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a Federal Register Notice stating that certain naloxone products have the potential to be safe and effective for over-the-counter use. In the notice, FDA encouraged applications for over-the-counter naloxone products.

Released last fall, HHS’s Overdose Prevention Strategy is designed to address the overdose crisis by increasing access to the full continuum of care and services for people who use substances that cause overdose. The strategy has four main pillars – Primary Prevention, Evidence-Based Treatment, Harm Reduction, and Recovery Supports – and focuses on the diverse array of substances involved in overdose, as well as the diverse treatment approaches for substance use disorders.

The Strategy reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities to maximize health equity for underserved populations, using the best available data and evidence to inform policy and actions, integrate substance use care and services into other types of health care and social services, and reduce stigma. Two of the Strategy’s pillars – harm reduction and recovery support – are groundbreaking in that they represent the first time a coordinated, federal focus has been devoted to two areas that have been supported by grassroots efforts for decades.

The overdose crisis has continued to evolve over the past few decades. Illicitly manufactured synthetics like fentanyl are involved in the majority of overdose deaths and are often mixed with other substances without a buyer’s knowledge. Deaths involving stimulants have also increased and a growing number of overdose deaths involve multiple substances. HHS is continually updating its response to reflect the changing dynamics of the crisis.

For a list of key actions the Biden-Harris Administration has taken through HHS to address the addiction and overdose crisis over the last year, see this White House fact sheet.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2023 proposed budget for HHS on programs supporting the Overdose Prevention Strategy totals $10.9 billion across HHS, $3.1 billion more than in FY 2022, a 40 percent increase from FY 2022 (Enacted), and includes funding to significantly expand efforts related to primary prevention, evidence-based treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services across HHS programs; as well as funding to bolster the nation’s behavioral health infrastructure. In particular, the budget proposes to more than double funding directed toward access to recovery support services.

For more information on the new Overdose Prevention Strategy, visit: Read the full issue brief here: Read the fact sheet here:


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