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Local leaders join forces to curb prescription drug abuse, heroin

Tags: Health

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@NACoTweets, @leagueofcities, @uscommunities, @usmayors will help counties obtain lifesaving anti-opiate medicine

In conjunction with President Obama’s announcement of local, state and federal efforts to address the growing problem of opioid misuse and abuse, local leaders announced a new cooperative purchasing agreement to expand public agencies’ access to poten­tially lifesaving opioid withdrawal medications.

NACo, the National League of Cities and United States Confer­ence of Mayors, with the U.S. Communities Purchasing Alliance and Premier, Inc., have secured industry-leading discounts for nal­oxone and medications containing buprenorphine.

These medications help prevent painful withdrawal symptoms when a person stops taking opioid drugs. The program pools the purchasing power of more than 62,000 agencies in state and local government and the nonprofit sector.

“Medication-assisted opioid treatment programs can mean the difference between life and death,” said National Association of Counties President Sallie Clark, commissioner, El Paso County, Colo. “Counties are uniquely situ­ated at the intersection of the local health, human services, justice and public safety systems. We see firsthand the devastating effects of prescription drug abuse and heroin use. This is a non-partisan issue, and we are implementing smart strategies to address this growing problem in our communities.”

Additionally, as part of its Safe and Secure Counties Initiative, NACo is working with state as­sociations of counties to develop policy recommendations and pro­mote promising practices to address the opioid epidemic plaguing communities.

Obama held the community forum in Charleston, W.Va., Oct. 21 where he announced a broad range of efforts aimed at addressing the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic.

More than 40 provider groups, he said, including physicians, dentists, advanced practice regis­tered nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists and educators have committed to:

  •                 have more than 540,000 health care providers complete opioid prescriber training in the next two years
  •                 double the number of physi­cians certified to prescribe bu­prenorphine for opioid use disorder treatment, from 30,000 to 60,000 over the next three years
  •                 double the number of providers that prescribe naloxone—a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose
  •                 double the number of health care providers registered with their State Prescription Drug Monitor­ing Programs in the next two years, and
  •                 reach more than 4 million health care providers with aware­ness messaging on opioid abuse, appropriate prescribing practices, and actions providers can take to be a part of the solution in the next two years.


According to the Office of Na­tional Drug Control Policy, more Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes and the majority of those overdoses involve prescription medications.

Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications in 2012 —enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.

Opioids are a class of pre­scription pain medications that includes hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and methadone. Heroin belongs to the same class of drugs, and four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription opioid pain medications.

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