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Ohio picked for federal study on curbing opioid deaths

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that Ohio will play a role in a four–year, $350 million study that aims to reduce opioid deaths by 40 percent over three years (Source: “Ohio State to lead $65.9 million state study to help reduce opioid deaths,” Columbus Dispatch, April 18, 2019).

A consortium of Ohio colleges and communities led by Ohio State University is undertaking a sweeping effort to study how best to reduce opioid deaths in the state. Ohio State and its partners will receive a $65.9 million federal research grant for part of the project, with the first installment totaling $13 million.

Kentucky, New York and Massachusetts will also receive federal grants through what the federal government calls the HEALing Communities Study. By selecting Ohio, the Trump administration picked an epicenter in the epidemic. In 2017, 4,293 Ohioans died from opioid-related overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only West Virginia had a higher rate of deaths per 100,000 people.

The Ohio study will focus on 19 Ohio counties: Allen, Ashtabula, Athens, Brown, Cuyahoga, Darke, Franklin, Guernsey, Greene, Hamilton, Huron, Jefferson, Lucas, Morrow, Ross, Scioto, Stark, Williams and Wyandot. The Ohio consortium will bring together experts from six universities — Ohio State, Cincinnati, Case Western Reserve, Ohio, Toledo and Wright State — as well as leaders from state agencies, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and other community organizations. Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration is also participating.