From the Associated Press — Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is launching initiatives to cut opioid overdose deaths in half in five years. Whitmer and other top officials on Thursday announced a series of steps to combat an epidemic that has claimed more than 7,000 lives over five years. They include removing prior authorization requirements for opioid-treatment medicines in the Medicaid program and spending $1 million on advertising to reduce the stigma around addiction. The state also is expanding medication-assisted treatment in prisons and support for syringe-service programs. Whitmer says reducing overdose deaths by 50% is “ambitious” but “absolutely doable.” She says government cannot tackle the issue alone and must collaborate with others.