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Bost trying to get Illinois more money to help stop drug overdoses

Doctor talks about prescribing opioids

Dr. Aaron Newcomb discusses prescribing trends for opioid painkillers
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Dr. Aaron Newcomb discusses prescribing trends for opioid painkillers

This is part of an occasional series of stories on the problem with opioid addiction in Illinois.

Illinois could be in line for federal money to increase the use of naloxone, the drug that brings people back from opioid and heroin overdoses.

The Stem the Tide of Overdose Prevalence from Opiate Drugs, or STOP OD, Act would make available $150 million in grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase naloxone training in the next two fiscal years.

“Increasing the availability of Naloxone for our first responders will save lives, giving a mother, father, son or daughter a new opportunity for recovery,” U.S. Rep. Mike Bost wrote in a statement. Bost, R-Murphysboro, was a sponsor of the bill to make the money available.

Eligible applicants include state and local governments and nonprofit groups, which would be able to receive up to $200,000 apiece to put naloxone in the hands of first-responders and train them how to use the drug, establish a referral system for treatment, and give rebates for testing fentanyl in unintentional overdoses and to report them to the CDC.

The goal dovetails with efforts from the state to train people to use naloxone as part of the Drug Overdose Prevention Program, which was founded by the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse in 2012.

Increasing the availability of Naloxone for our first responders will save lives, giving a mother, father, son or daughter a new opportunity for recovery.

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, co-sponsor

Since fiscal year 2014, about 18,500 first responders were trained with naloxone, with nearly 9,000 of them in fiscal year 2016 alone, DHS reported. Since fiscal year 2014, there have been about 25,000 overdose reversals in Illinois.

“Given the additional federal funding ... it is expected that there will be an increase in the number of enrolled programs and first responders trained,” DHS wrote.

The bill would also establish $75 million in grants for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 for the same groups to provide educational programs relating to opioid and heroin addiction. Grants of up to $100,000 would be available for:

▪  Opioid education

▪  Promoting opioid treatment

▪  Education about addiction as a disease

Opioid addiction has become an issue across the United States in recent years, including in Illinois, where some prescribing trends have grown worse since 2008, according to a recent series of stories published by the BND.

In addition to naloxone, which saves people at what otherwise would have been their last stage of addiction, studies have shown that checking state-based Prescription Monitoring Programs could save lives by giving doctors more information about the prescriptions patients get. States in which doctors are required to check the program show reductions in opioid prescribing, but in Illinois, participation is voluntary.

The bill Bost joined would also advise the U.S. Sentencing Commission to consider fentanyl, a deadly substance used to increase the potency of heroin, as an “aggravating factor” in sentencing.

In addition to changing sentencing guidelines, the bill would be funded, in part, by people with convictions involving fentanyl. Those convicted of making, distributing, dispensing or possessing a real or fake version of the drug would have to pay an $80 fee to fund the goals of STOP OD.

The bill would also be funded by expected savings of $500 million by consolidating data centers spread across the country.

STOP OD was introduced in January, and it has been referred to various House committees.

Casey Bischel: 618-239-2655, @CaseyBischel