CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati will partner with other Ohio universities in a $65.9 million federally-funded study aimed at reducing the state's overdose death rate by 40 percent over three years.
The Ohio-based study will investigate and test ways to better prevent and treat addiction, according to a release.
UC and Ohio State University are leading a coalition including Ohio University, University of Toledo, Wright State University and Case Western University, plus more than a dozen urban, suburban, and rural community partners.
Dr. Jennifer Brown with UC Health's addiction sciences is one of a hand-selected group of researchers who will be analyzing evidence-based solutions to tackling the opioid crisis.
Hamilton and Brown counties are among 19 selected at random to participate. The others include Allen, Ashtabula, Athens, Cuyahoga, Darke, Franklin, Guernsey, Greene, Huron, Jefferson, Lucas, Morrow, Ross, Scioto, Stark, Williams, and Wyandot.
U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman of Ohio worked together to secure the funding. Ohio is one of four states to receive federal funding through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) HEALing Communities Study.
An $87 million grant was awarded to the University of Kentucky for a similar study in the commonwealth, which will include Kenton, Campbell and Mason counties.
Ohio has one of the highest overdose death rates in the country — 46.3 per 100,000 individuals in 2017 — according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“On average, 14 Ohioans die every day due to an opioid overdose. We must be doing everything in our power to fight this crisis on all fronts,” Brown said in a release.
“This is great news for Ohio and our efforts to address the crisis of addiction in urban, suburban and rural areas of our state,” said Portman. “This funding will be used to implement a comprehensive approach to address this epidemic and I know it will make a real difference in our state.”
The Ohio partners will measure the impact of integrating evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery interventions across primary care, behavioral health, justice and other settings in highly affected parts of the country, the release said. The study will track communities as they reduce the incidence of opioid use disorder, increase the number of individuals receiving medication-based treatment for opioid use disorder, increase treatment retention beyond six months, provide recovery support services and expand the distribution of naloxone, a medication to reverse opioid overdose.
The four-year study will be conducted under a cooperative agreement supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
New York, and Massachusetts are also receiving funding through the HEALing Communities Study.
SEE WCPO's special coverage, "Conquering Addiction."