Treat opioid addiction with resources, not rhetoric (Op-ed CNN)

Little is known about the Trump administration's plan to end this public health epidemic of opioid abuse, apart from the creation of a Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. So far, the White House has only said that the commission will produce a report and look for federal funding mechanisms.

But that is not nearly enough.

At a time when opioid overdose deaths kill tens of thousands of Americans every year -- including more than 33,000 in 2015 -- we do not have the luxury of giving this commission months to rehash facts that experts, including the surgeon general and coalitions of doctors and public health experts, already agree upon.

Read the entire story.

Related Stories

How Medicaid fits into Maryland's opioid crisis (WYPR)

Sixty-four-year old Johnnie Davis has been treating his heroin addiction at the Bon Secours New Hope Treatment Center in West Baltimore for nearly 20 years.

“When I came here, I didn’t have no insurance,” he said. “And if I wasn’t here, I could imagine where my life would have turned because I was known for drugs — selling drugs.”

With no insurance and no job, Davis paid $8 a week for the Methadone program. The clinic later helped him get health coverage through Medicaid. For the last 18 years or so, his treatment has been covered in full.

Maryland is in the midst of an epidemic. More than 1,800 people died last year from overdosing on opioids, a 70-percent increase from the year before, according to data released last week by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Medicaid covers roughly 20 percent of Maryland residents, but Medicaid patients make up a larger portion of the Marylanders grappling with addiction.

Read the entire story.

Baltimore’s Top Doctor: Why Aren’t We Treating Gun Violence Like A Health Crisis? (Huffington Post)

Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner and an emergency room physician, wrote a moving op-ed last week after a gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice. In it, she highlighted the daily horror of gun violence the medical community faces.

Wen has long argued that gun violence is a public health issue ― a medical emergency without a prevention plan.

“Medical professionals are trained to stanch bleeding, stitch wounds and patch up broken bodies,” she wrote in her piece for The New York Times, titled “What Bullets Do To Bodies.” “We are good at our jobs; most gunshot victims survive their wounds. But every day, we are plagued by the question of how to prevent these injuries in the first place, when the damage is so extensive from weapons so readily available.”

Wen spoke to HuffPost on Monday about why she believes gun violence is a public health issue, and what Baltimore is doing to prevent it. 

Read the entire story.

Baltimore needs more funding for naloxone (WMAR)

The opioid epidemic has reached new levels in Maryland, increasing the need for life-saving medications like naloxone. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leanna Wen says there isn't enough naloxone to meet the demand. 

She says more than 800 people have been saved in the last two years with overdose reversal medications, but numbers are skyrocketing  driving up the costs of naloxone.

"We are short of funding for it," Wen said. "There's plenty of naloxone if we're able to buy it and the manufacturers have been generous in that we've received donations from some of the manufacturers and we've gotten thousands of units of Narcan from these manufacturers, but we should not depend on the charity of drug companies."

Dr. Wen says the Health Department is depending on the state and federal governments to provide funding for these medications.  

Read the entire story.