The opioid epidemic continues to escalate in its national repercussions. Against this backdrop, President Trump’s White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued its interim report on July 31, 2017.
The opioid overdose epidemic is a continuing public health crisis. When we began tracking laws aimed to increase access to naloxone in late 2012, they existed in only eight states. As of July 1, 2017, every state and Washington D.C. has passed at least one law increasing access to naloxone—a remarkably rapid progression for public health legislation.
The recently released Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics supplemental issue features articles authored by presenters at the Public Health Law Conference in Washington D.C. Corey Davis, deputy director at the Network for Public Health Law – Southeastern Region Office, co-authored the article, “Action, Not Rhetoric, Needed to Reverse the Opioid Overdose Epidemic.” In the following Q&A, Corey discusses his article and how it addresses a critical public health issue.
In 2015, 33,091 Americans died of accidental opioid overdose, that’s more deaths than from car crashes or guns. Early interventions to prevent and treat substance use disorder and opioid use disorder, save lives and resources. Although access to evidence-based prevention and treatment remains far below where it should be, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act have been instrumental in improving it.
In recent months, the federal government has redoubled these efforts by expanding on initiatives that improve access to treatment for individuals with substance use disorders (SUD). A key component of these efforts focuses on implementing and enforcing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which requires most health insurance plans to treat mental health and SUD benefits on equal footing with- medical and surgical benefits
With almost 19,000 U.S. deaths associated with opioid pain relievers in 2014, prescription drug misuse and illicit use are one of today’s most pressing public health challenges. Laws intended to reduce prescription opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose are rapidly proliferating, and have given rise to a series of natural experiments in the United States.
Staggering numbers of American are diagnosed with opioid addiction, and tens of thousands succumb to fatal opioid overdose each year. As opioid dependence and overdose continues to rise, states are increasingly recognizing the role of providers in both driving and curtailing the epidemic.
Media reports, public figures, and press releases reporting on efforts to increase access to naloxone often state that it is now available in certain jurisdictions or pharmacy chains “over the counter” or “without a prescription.” While the idea behind this reporting is correct, it’s important to note that the actual terms being used are not. Although there are a wide variety of steps that states, localities, and private businesses can take to increase access to naloxone, they cannot make it available “over the counter” or “without a prescription.”
The past few months have seen a number of important developments the area of drug abuse and overdose prevention law and policy. Here are a few of the more important stories at the federal, state, and local levels.
The U.S. healthcare system has become much more aggressive in treating pain over the last 15 years. Just as with any medical intervention, there have been side-effects, and the U.S. is in the middle of an epidemic of painkiller misuse and abuse that’s killing large numbers of people. In fact, misuse and abuse of opiate prescription painkillers takes out more people every year than car crashes.