New Report Shows COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Opioid Overdoses; McKinsey & Company Settlement Funds Aid Response to Opioid Epidemi
New lifesaving strategies announced as data shows increase in suspected opioid overdoses
FROM THE WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES
A report published today by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) shows the state’s opioid epidemic worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, DHS is unveiling new strategies to prevent and reduce further harm. These strategies are funded by Wisconsin’s share of a recent multistate settlement with McKinsey & Company, a global consulting firm that for years fueled the opioid epidemic nationwide through its work with the manufacturers of opioid drugs. DHS is receiving nearly $10.4 million over five years for work to save lives.
The report, Opioid Overdose Incidents and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Wisconsin, shows opioid overdose incidents in Wisconsin from January 2019 through March 2021 based on ambulance runs and emergency department visits. These data paint a near real-time picture of opioid overdoses during key stretches of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including the start of the statewide pandemic response in March 2020, the surge in cases in the fall of 2020, and the decline in the number of cases with the availability of the vaccine in late 2020 through March 2021.
“Opioid overdoses are caused by complex societal issues with many factors behind them. Some of the reasons for the increases during the COVID-19 pandemic may include anxiety and stress due to social isolation, economic instability, social unrest, drastic changes in people’s daily lives, and the production of stronger, more lethal drugs laced with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, as well as systemic barriers such as decreased access to naloxone, treatment services, and recovery supports,” said DHS Director of Opioid Initiatives Paul Krupski. “The information in the report clearly shows that we have to be vigilant in our efforts to support people and connect them with help. The initiatives to be funded through the McKinsey & Company settlement will be instrumental in our continued fight against the opioid epidemic.”