Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown has tasked Senior Policy Advisor Jeff Rhoades with leading a statewide effort to combat opioid abuse and dependency, she announced today. Rhoades will create a task force consisting of medical experts, drug treatment specialists, and government officials to identify and implement efforts to address the growing opioid misuse and abuse across the state.
Click here for the Governor's office announcement
Over the past decade, opioid producers and suppliers have spent more than $880 million at the federal and state level lobbying lawmakers to stop new regulations on their drugs, while calling on policymakers to actually loosen access to painkillers. That’s eight times as much as the gun lobby spent on its causes, according to Mother Jones. And it often worked: In Maine, for example, drugmakers successfully pushed for a bill that required insurers to cover opioid painkillers that are supposedly harder to abuse.
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In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was argued “largely on moral grounds” that opioids should be available for chronic pain. The management model that was adopted was based on the success of opioids for acute and end-of-life pain: a “titrate-to-effect” principle was applied, and a numerical rating became the chief metric. Pain came to be known as the “fifth vital sign” that the pharmaceutical industry exploited to promote narcotic use. We thus caused a man-made opioid epidemic. This report pleads for the FDA to regulate the pharmaceutical industry's ability to promote narcotics and related drugs.
Newly released data show that the epidemic has reached crisis levels. Deschutes County is below the national average. Lake County is leading Oregon and Lane, Wheeler, Grant, Curry, Josephine and Jackson counties are also above average.