Drug commDrug Commission strikes correct chord with opioid report

President Trump’s drug commission last week called on him to declare a national emergency to deal with the country’s opioid drug epidemic.

Few people in this region would disagree with that assessment, especially given some of the clusters of opioid tragedies this summer.

The commission’s report said about 142 deaths occur each day as a result of drug overdoses. Many of them occur in our region.

While the call for a state of emergency is a legitimate headline grabber, the recommendations of the commission, which the Trump administration is studying, represent a long-range plan of attack on the epidemic. They include;

• Addressing regulations and enforcing health requirements that health plans provide the same level of services for those with physical health issues as those with mental health and substance abuse issues.

• Equipping all law enforcement officers with the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

• Providing money for federal agencies to develop sensors that can detect the synthetic opiod fentanyl.

• Increasing use of medications approved for treating opioid addiction in prisons.

• Requiring doctors and others in federally qualified health centers to get waivers to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication of opioid addiction.

• Achieving data sharing among state prescription drug monitoring programs by July 1, 2018.

Some of those action items already are in place in our region, and that’s a good thing.

But it is clear the problem is of a scope and origin that cries out for help at the federal level. To that end, we are heartened by the commission’s recommendations and the tone of urgency with which they were presented.

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