Virginia deaths rising despite opioid overdose drug spending

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s death toll from opioid overdoses keeps rising despite state and local governments spending millions on making an antidote available.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that figures through the first three months of this year show Virginia was on pace to record its highest opioid overdose death toll since it began tracking the data in 2007.

That’s despite the state health department spending nearly $2 million dispensing the drug naloxone since late 2016, almost three times what it spent on all other harm reduction services combined. Emergency response agencies have spent more.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report last month that the doubling of naloxone prescriptions between 2017 and 2018 resulted in a slight reduction in deaths. Researchers said dispensing levels are still inadequate.

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