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WV lawmakers attend National Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse Summit

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Last week West Virginia lawmakers attended the fifth National Prescription Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia.


The summit brought together all professionals involved with prescription drug and heroin abuse to collaborate to find solutions for this public health crisis.


Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-West Virginia) and Huntington’s Deputy Fire Chief Jan Rader presented during the summit.


President Obama and over 1,900 of the nations top professionals were in attendance.


During a panel discussion with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, senator Manchin ‎and Governor Tomblin applauded the administration’s engagement on the issue.


“Since the President traveled to Charleston for a town hall on opioid abuse and saw firsthand the impact opioid abuse has had on West Virginians, the Administration’s efforts to combat this epidemic have dramatically increased,” Manchin said according to a press release. “The steps taken today will ensure those on the frontlines of this crisis have the tools and resources they need to properly combat and ultimately end this epidemic.”


Some of the administration’s new actions to combat the prescription drug epidemic include medical schools requiring students to take prescriber education, Rite Aid and Kroger expanding the dispensing of naloxone to patients without a prescription and The Department of Health and Human Services expanding access to treatment.


Manchin commended the schools in West Virginia that are committed to ensuring their students are properly educated on the risks and dangers of opioid abuse.


“These important actions build on the Administration’s initiatives and efforts that I have been fighting for to treat and prevent opioid addiction,” Manchin said. “But with 51 people dying every day, more still needs to be done.”


Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine is among those medical schools that will require prescriber education in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, in order to graduate.


Tomblin signed two proposals into law following the summit to strengthen the state’s efforts in giving West Virginian’s access to substance abuse treatment and recovery services so they can get back to their families.

Senate bill 431 will expand access to opioid antagonists, by making Narcan available to any West Virginian – without a prescription.


“Today, family members and friends of those struggling with addiction can walk into their local pharmacy and purchase this life-saving drug, receive training to safely administer it – giving those struggling with an opioid addiction the opportunity to get help,” Tomblin said.


Senate bill 454 will ensure West Virginians in need have access to licensed medication-assisted treatment and recovery services.


“By establishing licensing requirements for these facilities, we can make sure Suboxone and Methadone are used as part of a comprehensive approach to treatment that includes behavioral and addiction therapies – to give those seeking treatment the support they need to begin the recovery process,” Tomblin said.


Tomblin was the only governor in attendance.


Emily Wood can be contacted at [email protected].

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