STAT June 16, 2024
Lev Facher

In 2019, amid an ever-worsening drug crisis, the federal government launched a research study with an ambitious goal: to lower opioid overdoses in participating communities by 40% using evidence-based interventions like distributing naloxone and providing access to addiction medications.

But communities that implemented the public health strategies did not see a statistically significant reduction in opioid overdose deaths, according to data published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Given the study’s simple premise — that helping communities use proven strategies could help prevent deaths — the results came as a surprise. But its leaders warn against making too much of the disappointing data, citing the fast-changing drug supply and, critically, the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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