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Analysis: Michigan Taking Firm Action to Combat Opioid Crisis

Opioid overdoses claimed more than 1,700 Michigan lives in 2014. (Pixabay)
Opioid overdoses claimed more than 1,700 Michigan lives in 2014. (Pixabay)
July 5, 2016

LANSING, Mich. - The opioid epidemic is worsening in states around the nation, and Michigan is among states taking firm action to address the problem.

A legislative review from Stateline, a project of The Pew Charitable Trusts, highlights several bills introduced in Michigan this year that would stem the prescription of pain medication and help those who are addicted.

Scott Greenberger, Stateline’s executive director, says the number of overdose deaths from opioids has skyrocketed in recent years and almost every state is taking action.

"Whether it's putting new safeguards in place to prevent what is called doctor shopping or people going from doctor to doctor to get pills – to making an overdose antidote called naloxone more readily available," he explains.

The Michigan House recently passed legislation now under consideration by the Senate
(SB 793), allocating $2.5 million to overhaul the state's prescription tracking database.

Other bills would allow pharmacies to offer naloxone without prescription (SB 778 and
HB 5326), and allow training within school districts for its use. (SB 806 and HB 5379).

Greenberger says Gov. Rick Snyder's recent creation of a 17-member panel to examine the opioid problem also is an important undertaking.

"It's going to be comprised of state and independent health experts,” Greenberger explains. “And they'll be responsible for monitoring some of the indicators of this epidemic and trying to recommend policies to the governor involving licensing and law enforcement, treatment and prevention to do something about the problem."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than 1,700 deaths related to opioid overdose in Michigan in 2014, nearly triple the number since 1999.

Mary Kuhlman/Scott Herron, Public News Service - MI