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White House Starts Data Dashboard On Nonfatal Opioid Overdoses

The White House launched a data dashboard that for the first time tracks the rate of nonfatal opioid overdoses across the U.S. that health experts say will help target resources to areas hit hard by the opioid epidemic, reports USA Today. The new database, which went live Thursday, could prevent some of the deadly impacts from opioids. About 81,000 Americans have died in the past year due to the powerful substance. “We are hoping that this will be used by first responders, by clinicians as well as policymakers to make sure that we are working to provide that response, connect people to care as well as to minimize the response times and ensure that there's resources available on the ground,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

In addition to nonfatal overdoses, the map shows on average how long it takes for emergency medical services to reach someone who is overdosing, the percentage of patients who are not transported back to a medical facility, and the average number of naloxone administrations per patient. Naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. In 2020, naloxone was used at least 155,420 times by health care providers, said Ann Carlson of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Researchers have mostly relied on data from overdose deaths to inform about the opioid epidemic and policy decisions. Tracking nonfatal overdoses offers a more accurate picture and provides the opportunity for early intervention. People who experience a nonfatal overdose are up to three times more likely to die from an overdose later, Gupta said. “The problem with monitoring overdoses using fatal overdose (data) is that people have to die for us to understand what's happening,” said Prof. Heather Bradley of the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. “We don’t want to wait for enough deaths to build up for us to see that something’s wrong.”


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