FILE - prescription medication, drugs, opioid crisis, oxycodone

Louisiana will receive $11.7 million from the federal government to combat opioid addiction, U.S. Sen. John Kennedy said Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant, part of more than $1.8 billion in new federal funding, is intended to help states and local governments track opioid data and support their work in preventing overdoses.

“The opioid crisis is ruining lives and hurting families,” Kennedy said. “This grant will help Louisiana officials track overdose data and then use that data to help save lives.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration says 455 people in the state died from opioid misuse in 2018, a 184 percent increase from 2012. Louisiana has utilized almost $50 million in federal grants to address the opioid problem, the administration says.

On Wednesday, state officials kicked off a three-day Opioid Action Summit, part of a weeklong statewide “call to action” on opioid addiction. Held at the Slidell Harbor Center, the summit includes a town hall open to the public on Friday morning.

The more than $1.8 billion in federal grants announced Wednesday includes more than $900 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a three-year cooperative agreement with states, territories, and localities to advance the understanding of the opioid overdose problem and to scale up prevention and response activities, with $301 million set for release in the first year.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded approximately $932 million to all 50 states as part of its State Opioid Response grants. By the end of 2019, HHS will have awarded more than $9 billion in grants to states and local communities to help increase access to treatment and prevention services since 2017, the department says.

Staff Reporter

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.