HCN News & Notes

State Releases Detailed Report on Opioid Epidemic

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration released an in-depth analysis of the state’s opioid-related deaths from 2013 to 2014. The findings reveal that opioid-related deaths have increased by 350{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} in Massachusetts in 15 years and marks the first time data from multiple state agencies has been linked to give a comprehensive overview of deaths associated with the opioid epidemic.

“We are pleased to unveil this report to combine state resources and aggregate data in an innovative way to better understand the drivers behind opioid and heroin-related overdoses,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “We are hopeful that new information will help us better understand the contours of this public-health crisis as we continue to work on prevention, education, and treatment in our communities to combat the opioid crisis in the Commonwealth.”

Added Marylou Sudders, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, “in 2013 and 2014 alone, opioid-related deaths were recorded for two-thirds of the cities and towns in Massachusetts. In the face of this crisis, we must continue our efforts to battle this epidemic that continues to take a record number of lives.”

The analysis, performed by the state Department of Public Health, reviewed opioid-related deaths in 2013 and 2014 by analyzing data from multiple government entities including the Department of Public Health, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Department of Correction, MassHealth, and the Center for Health Information and Analysis. The Commonwealth’s technology agency, MassIT, facilitated integration work to bring the various streams of data together.

The report, which was released at a reconvening of the Governor’s Opioid Working Group, chaired by Sudders, is part of continued efforts to improve the collection and release of data examining the impact that opioids have on Bay State communities. Earlier this year, Baker signed landmark opioid legislation into law to address the deadly opioid and heroin epidemic plaguing the Commonwealth.

“Opioid use disorder is a chronic disease, and this epidemic is a complex and persistent problem that will not be solved through a single solution,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. “This data will be leveraged to allocate resources more efficiently and effectively to help us save lives.”

In 2015, the Governor’s Opioid Working Group released recommendations and a comprehensive action plan aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic. These short- and long-term recommendations focus on prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery support. Approximately 93{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of the initiatives in the governor’s action plan are complete or underway.