• Need to work together
    May 15,2014

    Need to work together

    With drug overdoses ravaging families and communities in Vermont, now is the time for a more strategic approach to stemming Vermont’s prescription drug abuse epidemic.

    My organization, the Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence, recently sent a letter to Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin urging him to use concerns over Zohydro ER, a new opioid pain medication, “as a lightning rod for change.” The American Academy of Pain Management and National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association co-signed the letter.

    We asked the governor and health commissioner to participate in a “multilateral meeting to develop a more thorough approach” to stemming Vermont’s prescription drug abuse epidemic.

    “Vermont’s approach does not go far enough,” our letter to the governor stated. Safe-prescribing and abuse-prevention requirements should apply not just to one drug but to all powerful controlled substances, as numerous national health care organizations have recommended.

    CLAAD brings together health care professionals, law enforcement, businesses, government and aggrieved family members, among others, to share resources and work together to save lives. We have collaborated since 2008 to develop a comprehensive national strategy to stem prescription drug fraud, diversion and abuse, while advancing consumer access to high-quality medical care.

    Gov. Shumlin did not respond to our offer to join forces, but it remains open to other Vermonters committed to reducing drug abuse, addiction, overdoses and deaths. We must do all we can to save lives, and at the top of the list is working together.

    Michael C. Barnes

    Washington, D.C.

    The writer is executive director of the Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence.

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