DOJ Announces More than $330 Million in Grant Funding

The Department of Justice announced on Friday that it would be releasing $333 million in additional funding geared towards helping address the nation’s opioid epidemic. Across nine different programs, included below, DOJ has indicated that efforts to combat the epidemic remain a priority. Below, each of the nine programs are outlined including the allocated funding.

  • The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Programs ($163 million)
  • The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program ($23.8 million)
  • The Enhancing Community Responses to the Opioid Crisis: Serving Our Youngest Crime Victims ($15.8 million)
  • The Opioid Affected Youth Initiative ($7.9 million)
  • The Drug Courts Program ($83.5 million)
  • The Child Abuse Training for Judicial Personnel program ($1 million)
  • The Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative ($15 million)
  • The Research and Evaluation on Drugs and Crime Program ($6 million)
  • The Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program ($17 million)

As part of the funding announcement, Principal Deputy Attorney General Katherine Sullivan noted, “This epidemic — the most deadly in our nation’s history — is introducing new dangers and loading public health responsibilities onto the public safety duties of our law enforcement officers. OJP is here to support them through this unprecedented and extremely challenging time.”

Articles & Resources

DOJ Newsroom – Justice Department Awards More than $333 Million to Fight Opioid Crisis

Risks from Tramadol Raised, Countering Prior Messaging as a Safer Opioid

Reporting from the Associated Press earlier this week highlights discrepancies between messaging around tramadol as a safer opioid and coupled with rampant misuse and abuse in countries throughout Africa and Asia. While often couched as a safer alternative to OxyContin and other schedule II opioids, tramadol abuse has become a pervasive threat and required intervention from the World Health Organization and other international regulatory bodies.

World Health Organization Secretary Dr. Gilles Forte has noted, “This is a huge public health dilemma…[and] a really very complicated balance to strike” with hundreds of thousands of dosage units being seized across the world. These issues are further exacerbated by tramado’s mechanism of action and metabolism by the liver. According to researchers, some ethnic groups are more prone to the euphoric effects of tramadol, especially by those who transition to intravenous use. Harvard researcher and national leader on the opioid response, Dr. Bertha Madras noted, “Tramadol is most likely not as problematic as some of the big gun opioids like oxycodone and fentanyl and heroin. But it certainly can be in certain populations and it certainly can be if it’s abused by a wider and wider swath of the population.”

Articles & Resources

Associated Press – Tramadol Is an Odd, Unpredictable Opioid, Scientists Say

Associated Press – Mass Opioid Abuse is ‘Destabilizing’ World’s Poorest Nations

Major League Baseball Alters Opioid Policy

Following the overdose death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs earlier this year, Major League Baseball announced this week that it would be changing its drug use policies for the forthcoming year by removing marijuana and adding mandatory testing for prescription opioids and cocaine. Initial drug test failures would lead to players entrance into a treatment program. Formal punishments may be levied in the instance that players forego the treatment plan. In addition to the policy change, players and staff will be required to take a classes focused on opioid risks over the next two years.

Upon announcement of the policy change, ONDCP Director Jim Carroll expressed his support. “Millions of Americans struggle with substance misuse and need help. We applaud the efforts of both Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to prioritize treatment over punishment.”

Articles & Resources

NPR –  Major League Baseball Drops Marijuana, Adds Opioids, Cocaine To ‘Drugs Of Abuse’ List

Wall Street Journal – Major League Baseball Players to Face Mandatory Opioid Tasting

Washington Post – MLB to Begin Mandatory Testing for Opioids for Opioids and Cocaine, Will ‘Favor a Treatment-based Approach’

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

Articles & Resources

Reuters – U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Arizona Opioid Case Against Purdue, Sackler Family

ABC News – Caring for the Youngest Victims of the Opioid Crisis

JAMA Psychiatry – Computational Markers of Risky Decision-making for Identification of Temporal Windows of Vulnerability to Opioid Use in a Real-world Clinical Setting

Dayton Business Journal – Google’s Verily Begins Seeing First Patients in Dayton

The Guardian – Canada: Nearly 14,000 People Die From Opioid Overdoses in Four Years

Hartford Courant –  Feds Seek New Ways to Spot Illicit Opioids Mailed Into U.S.

San Gabriel Valley Tribune – High Court Won’t Revisit Case of Rowland Heights Doctor Who Overprescribed Opioids

U.S. Food and Drug Administration –  Having Naloxone on Hand Can Save a Life During an Opioid Overdose

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy – Prize Winners Announced in $1.55M Challenge for New Solutions to Detect Opioids in International Mail

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma – Paramedic Sentenced to Prison for Tampering with Fentanyl and Ketamine Vials

U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut – Pharmacist Admits Tampering with Infusion Narcotics

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California – San Joaquin County Doctor Indicted for Prescribing Opioids to Patients Without a Medical Need

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania – Indian Businessman Pleads Guilty to Drug Importation, Smuggling and Money Laundering Offenses

This Week’s Calendar – Wrapping Up 2019

The House and Senate remain in session this week, with a significant focus placed on issues around the federal budget and impeachment proceedings. Should there be any additions to House or Senate schedules or updates with respect to additional events, this information will be made available.

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