Indianapolis, Ind.Today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and U.S. Representative Susan Brooks co-hosted a roundtable discussion at IUPUI on opioid addiction and the role providers can play in helping address this issue and assist their patients.Donnelly and Brooks heard from a range of officials to get different perspectives, including from the federal and state level, as well as on-the-ground, in doctor’s offices and at pharmacies.
They were joined by Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller,a representative from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as doctors, pharmacists, and public health officials.
Top: Donnelly participating in roundtable discussion with Brooks; Bottom: Donnelly speaking to the media after the event
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Senator Joe Donnelly said, “Fighting the opioid abuse and heroin epidemics in Indiana and across the country will require all of us — doctors, pharmacists, public health professionals, families, educators, law enforcement, and local, state, and federal elected officials — working together. That is why Congresswoman Susan Brooks and I convened a roundtable discussion with representatives from the state and federal level, as well as prescribers, to talk about the role practitioners can play in addressing the current opioid addiction crisis. This also provided an important forum to talk about opportunities to better engage prescribers in the fight against the opioid epidemic. I will continue to partner with my colleagues in Congress, along with federal and state officials, doctors, and providers to work on addressing this crisis.”
Congresswoman Susan Brooks said, “Prescription drug abuse and addiction knows no boundaries in who it afflicts. I have heard stories of high school athletes becoming addicted to pain medication while recovering from an injury and veterans addicted to opioids prescribed to treat chronic pain. As I studied these issues in Congress, I learned that medical professionals want and need more guidance regarding prescribing practices and identifying signs of addiction. Today’s roundtable was an important opportunity to hear directly from medical professionals what they need from their elected officials to assist and support them in this battle against addiction. I am grateful for the education and insight I received this morning. In Congress I remain committed to advancing solutions to address drug abuse and addiction.”
Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, Indiana State Health Commissioner, “We have seen in Indiana the steep toll that the national opioid epidemic can have on individuals and their communities. Conversations like today's roundtable are a critical part of developing a response to this epidemic that will enable us to give those suffering from addiction their best chance of receiving treatment and living longer, healthier lives.”
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, co-chair and creator of the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force, said, “Prescription drug abuse creates lifelong addicts and is responsible for half of the drug overdose deaths in our state. Added to that is the fact that more than 70 percent of heroin users started out abusing prescription drugs. This abuse is fueled by an overreliance on painkillers, and it can start in a doctor’s office. We must focus on promoting safe, responsible prescribing practices by medical professionals and cracking down on bad actors who feed addictions and risk patient lives.”
Paul K. Halverson, DrPH, Founding Dean of the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI in Indianapolis, said, “Addiction is not a tragedy for the addict alone. It is a tragedy for entire communities. Alcohol and drug addiction costs us an astonishing $7.3 billion annually in Indiana for everything from healthcare costs to criminal justice, education and more. We also feel its impact in lives lost too early, families ripped apart, and accidents that could have been prevented. While addiction is a serious and far reaching public health challenge, it is one we can address. We’ve seen progress in some areas. Now is the time to work together to find new and better ways to prevent and treat addiction.”
Christopher Jones, PharmD, MPH, in the Office of the Surgeon General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said, “Events like the roundtable today are important because they bring together the key stakeholders that need to work together to comprehensively address the opioid overdose epidemic,” said Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, MPH, in the Office of the Surgeon General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “It also provides an opportunity for us to highlight how HHS is partnering with our state, local, medical, and public safety partners to reverse the epidemic.”
Dr. Thomas O’Connor, MD, Family Physician, American Health Network, said, “Opiate addiction is rampant. The loss of human life and heartache for families is tragic. We need to show compassion to those who are addicted. No cost or low-cost recovery programs are desperately needed. Health care providers must not contribute to the problem. We must be vigilant in our prescribing of opiates. We need to monitor our patients with drug screens and INSPECT reports. We need to avoid opiates when possible and limit quantities when they are prescribed. Once we identify patients with addiction, we need to help them in their recovery.”
Donnelly first introduced bipartisan legislation designed to help address opioid addiction in June 2014 and reintroduced bipartisan legislation this year. In June 2015, Brooks introduced the companion bill in the House. Their legislation includes establishment of an inter-agency taskforce to develop best practices for prescription pain medication prescribing and pain management.
The CDC has declared prescription drug abuse a public health epidemic. Every day, 44 people in the U.S. die from a prescription painkiller overdose. Additionally, addiction to prescription pain medication can become a gateway to heroin use, with research showing that 4 out of 5 new heroin users abused prescription pain relievers before turning to heroin.