It has been almost a year since state leaders gathered to establish a battle plan in the fight against opioid abuse. Yesterday, Governor Pete Ricketts said significant progress is being made and there is more to come including a drug monitoring program.
Governor Ricketts says, “The PDMP, The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. As of January 1, 2018, all dispensed drugs will be go through that program which will allow us to monitor how these drugs are being prescribed and look for potential areas for potential abuse whether its physicians who are not monitoring properly what their patients are doing or patients who are, for example doing doctor shopping and going from one doctor to the next to get prescriptions. That will help us be able to spot those and intervene.”
The program includes more treatment for drug users and jail time for suppliers. Doctors and pharmacists will also be trained on how to help patients manage pain and to prevent addictions
U.S. Attorney Rob Stuart outlined the urgency in taking steps to combat opioid abuse and misuse. Studies show that in 2015, there were 64,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. and 50,000 of them were opioid related. In Nebraska we had 149 drug overdose deaths. Of those about 54 were opioid related.
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson says the tougher prescription regulations could cause an uptick in illegal drug traffic. There is especially a concern about the deadly drug fentanyl. He says, “When a user still has that addiction and if they go to the street what the street is offering is heroin and not as strong as fentanyl. Marketers of that illegal drug know that so they are starting to bring that into the community.”
Peterson says you cannot arrest your way out of this problem. That is why this coalition is bringing together all the players involved in drug use. He says, “When you have this coalition that has a broad perspective of treatment, prevention and law enforcement it will be much more effective.”
Governor Ricketts declared yesterday Opioid Abuse Awareness Day.