Fighting the Opioid Crisis
"The opioid epidemic is one that not only affects many communities, but the entire nation. According to a recent CDC study, 91 Americans die every day from overdosing on opioids. And while this number continues to grow rapidly, so does the need for proper care. Dr. Leana Wen, commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department shares a holistic approach to addressing this widespread, public health epidemic.
Interview recorded November 30, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 64,000 people were killed last year as a result of drug overdose. Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Robert Traynham. With me is Dr. Leana Wen, Commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department.
Dr. Wen is also being honored as being one of the 2017 Governing magazine Public Officials of the Year.
Dr. Wen, welcome to the program.
Dr. Wen: Thank you. Nice to be here.
Traynham: And congratulations for the honor.
Dr. Wen: Thank you.
Traynham: As I mentioned a few moments ago, 64,000 killed, which is way too many, in terms of drug overdose. Is that mainly opioids, or is a combination of other drugs, as well
Dr. Wen: It´s a combination, but opioids are the major killer, and in my city of Baltimore, there are two people a day who are dying from overdose.
Dr. Wen: And it´s particularly tragic because we know what works. We know that naloxone, which is the opioid antidote, can save someone´s life. I´m an E.R. doctor, and if I gave some naloxone right now who´s overdosing and would otherwise die, they´ll be walking and talking, often within 30 seconds. So we need to get this antidote to everyone, and in Baltimore City, I issued a blanket prescription to get naloxone to every one of our 620,000 residents.
Traynham: Can I pause there for a second When you said "blanket prescription," what do you mean by that
Dr. Wen: I issued a prescription to every single one of our residents, so that you don´t need a prescription yourself to go to a pharmacy. Naloxone is essentially over-the-counter.
Traynham: I see.
Dr. Wen: And that´s because I believe that every single person should be able to save a life. So, in the last two years, everyday individuals have saved the lives of over 1,500 people in Baltimore City."