Bloomberg Philanthropies pledges $120M to combat overdose deaths

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Bloomberg Philanthropies, the philanthropy company of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, said Nov. 10 it plans to invest $120 million over five years to fight opioid overdoses in five states. 

The money will go to Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin, all among 25 states with the highest drug overdose death rates in 2019 and all of which had increases in drug overdose deaths last year. The investment builds on the Bloomberg opioids overdose prevention initiative, launched in 2018, that began in Pennsylvania and Michigan. 

Bloomberg Philanthropies said it is making the investment in response to the opioid epidemic getting "significantly worse" during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Each of the states will receive $10 million in support over the next five years. Pennsylvania and Michigan will also get an additional $4 million throughout the next three years, on top of money they received in 2018 when the initiative started. 

The initiative is a partnership with the CDC Foundation, Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Johns Hopkins University, the Pew Charitable Trusts and Vital Strategies. It has committed a total of $170 million since 2018. 

"The overdose epidemic is one of the worst public health crises we've ever faced  —  254 Americans die every single day from drug overdoses. It's tearing families apart across the country, and we need bolder, nationwide action, especially from the federal government  —  but we can't afford to wait until that happens," Mr. Bloomberg said when announcing the investment. 

The states will focus on ensuring medication access and availability, engaging local communities and supporting people who use drugs, Bloomberg Philanthropies said in a news release. The program will also emphasize a health equity approach, as Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by overdose deaths. 

Read the full news release here

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