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November 30, 2018

Vital Strategies Will Help States Reduce Overdose Deaths

Overdose is the leading cause of death for people under 50 in the United States

(Washington, D.C) – As a partner in the new $50 million investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Vital Strategies will support governments and communities in U.S. states to reduce overdose deaths, now the leading cause of death for people under 50 in the U.S. Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced the initiative at a plenary session today at the inaugural Bloomberg American Health Summit. Other initiative partners include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins University.

More than 70,000 people in the United States died from an overdose in 2017, exceeding the number of AIDS-related deaths at the height of the epidemic. Overdose deaths now substantially exceed deaths from motor vehicle crashes and gun violence.

“At Vital Strategies, we generate improvements in population health by partnering with governments and communities around the world to design and implement data-driven solutions that strengthen public health systems,” said José Luis Castro, President and CEO of Vital Strategies. “Unlike other health issues in the United States that are getting better, the problem of overdose has been getting worse. We are honored to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies to work with states to reduce harms and save lives by leveraging existing resources and tailoring solutions to the unique needs and challenges of their communities.”

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf joined Michael Bloomberg today to announce that his state, which had the highest number of overdose deaths in the country last year, is the first to participate in the initiative. Vital Strategies will be the initiative’s lead partner in Pennsylvania.

“Like other public health crises, this epidemic is shaped by policies, systems, stigma, and misconceptions,” said Daliah Heller, Director of Drug Use Initiatives at Vital Strategies. “We look forward to working with policymakers and communities to implement and scale up life-saving strategies for reducing drug-related harms and stigma.”

For more information on Vital Strategies’ overdose prevention initiative, visit:

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our programs reach into 73 countries and help prevent death and illness from noncommunicable disease, reduce harm caused by environmental factors, and support cities as engines for public health. We consult with governments on issues including restricting junk food marketing to kids, promoting smoke-free laws, improving indoor and outdoor air quality, and strengthening road safety. These are protections that can add up to millions of lives saved. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change.

To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

Media Contact: Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies:; 914.424.3356

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