In this regional conference, we will present an overview of the opioid epidemic and its key drivers, efforts undertaken to curb the crisis, and perspectives from the legal community, private sectors, and academia.
The headlines are grim, alarming, and have become familiar. “Fentanyl Drives Ohio’s Overdose Deaths to Record” could be read in Columbus Dispatch of September 23, 2018. For over a decade, similar headlines have been seen on front pages of newspapers across the country. From Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky to Utah, “Drug Deaths in America Are Rising Faster Than Before” wrote The New York Times on June 5, 2017. Some states, including West Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Maryland etc. are carrying the burden of opioid-related deaths. However, the opioid driven drug overdose crisis touches every state in the country.
The epidemic started in the late 90’s as the result of the over-prescribing of opioids for the pain
treatment of acute, chronic, and terminal illnesses. It continues with heroin and illicitly manufactured
fentanyl and its analogues mixed into heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine, and has caused nationwide
more than 72,237* drug overdose deaths in 2017, of which more than 47,600* (67.8%) are caused by
opioid alone. Researchers are projecting, if this status quo continues, a nationwide annual overdose
deaths of 81,700 in 2025. In Ohio, the death toll for drug overdose was 4,854 in 2017, of which 3,431
deaths were related to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine. These
drug overdose deaths represent a 20 percent increase from 2016 in Ohio. The state responded to the
epidemic by turning to science and technology with the Opioid Technology Challenge, taking legal action
against pharmaceutical companies, and promoting treatment and prevention. Federal, state, and local
governments’ response to the crisis also focused on treatment and prevention. In 2017, the federal
government declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. Academia, private industries, and
government research institutions have turned to science and technology with innovation. The FDA has
approved three formulations of Naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug. The legal community has
passed laws and removed roadblocks to allow greater access to treatment and prevention. Ohio has
passed the 911 Good Samaritan Law and the federal government is tightening opioid prescriptions by
medical doctors for the treatment of pain and taking legal action against over-prescribers.
* Preliminary numbers
Register for the Conference while seats are available.
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