A Nebraska state senator will serve on a national panel attempting to address the growing opioid crisis.
Sen. Merv Riepe of Ralston will serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures Opioid Policy Fellowship, one of 25 legislators working to develop and support legislation across the country to stem the opioid crisis.
Riepe says he hopes to share what Nebraska is doing as well as learn from other states.
“To see what we can do to avoid some of the crisis that has hit other people,” Riepe tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Riepe is chair of the Unicameral’s Health and Human Services Committee. He points out the legislature has approved legislation taking direct aim at opioid addiction. Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha sponsored the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which Riepe believes is the only such program in the state. It tracks prescription medicine. Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln sponsored the “good Samaritan” law, allowing a “no questions asked” notification of opioid abuse.
Riepe says opioid addiction has become a very serious problem.
“If a tainted drug hits the street, these things can turn ugly real fast and people ingesting things that they have no idea what they are,” according to Riepe.
Riepe has more than 30 years of experience in health care, working as a hospital administrator as well as an administrator for a psychiatric hospital and mental health center in Omaha.
In 2015, 54 Nebraskans died of an opioid overdose.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]