One of my colleagues here at University of Colorado, Dr. Robert Valuck, testified this week before the U.S. Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee on a public health approach to the opioid epidemic. His testimony is here. In it, he refers to the Colorado Plan to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse, which focuses on 8 key areas:
- improving surveillance of prescription drug misuse data;
- strengthening the Colorado Prescription Drug Monitoring Program;
- educating prescribers and providers;
- increasing safe disposal to prevent diversion and protect the environment;
- increasing public awareness;
- enhancing access and referral to evidence-based, effective treatment;
- expanding access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone; and
- increasing the voice of those who are affected by the epidemic.
As reported in November by Princeton economists Angus Deaton, who won the 2015 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, and Anne Case, death rates among middle-aged white Americans are rising
, unlike those in every other age, race and ethnic group–a rise driven not by the big killers like heart disease and diabetes but by an epidemic of suicides and afflictions stemming from substance abuse: alcoholic liver disease and overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids.
For more information about addressing the prescription drug epidemic, see the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website dedicated to this issue.