US awards $350M in research funds to fight opioid epidemic

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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials are giving $350 million to researchers in four states hit hardest by the deadly opioid epidemic.

The study announced Thursday aims to cut overdose deaths by 40% over three years in local communities grappling with misuse of the addictive drugs. Researchers will study evidence-based techniques for fighting addiction and overdose, such as medication-based treatments like methadone and criminal justice reforms.

The grants from the National Institutes of Health will go the University of Kentucky, Boston Medical Center, New York City’s Columbia University and Ohio State University.

Government officials across the U.S. have been fighting a multi-decade epidemic of opioid addiction, which includes not only prescription painkillers, but also illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Deaths linked to those drugs rose to a record 48,000 in 2017.

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