Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin challenged attendees of the 6th Annual National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta to summon even greater fortitude in their efforts to combat the nation’s opioid crisis. With Kentucky among the states worst hit by heroin and fentanyl overdoses, Bevin noted that the solutions must be as impactful as they are far-reaching.
“How badly do you want to fix this problem?” he asked. “You have to have a boldness and a conviction the likes of which you have never had before. It’s time. We are not winning this battle. The war on drugs is not being won.”
Bevin said failure to stop the “scourge of addiction” has come with a price the country cannot afford financially, medically, emotionally or spiritually, and he made several suggestions for pressing forward on practical solutions. For example, he noted that Kentucky recently signed into a law a measure that limits opioid prescriptions for routine acute cases to a three-day supply. A few other states have enacted similar laws—with certain exceptions, such as end-of-life care and cancer—and Bevin wants to see every state follow suit with a common sense approach.
Physician training about opioid use, addiction and addiction treatment is one area that could use some improvement. Unfortunately, too many practicing physicians lack the most current information on the harms of overprescribing.
“If a doctor’s education comes from a pharmaceutical salesperson, that’s a problem,” Bevin said.
Instead, he wants to see continuing education programs that update experienced prescribers as well as new programs to place residency students in treatment centers during their rotations. Policies to limit acute opioid prescribing to three days “would seem like child’s play” after such an experience, he said.
Additionally, he believes healthcare stakeholders who advocate to end addiction must work on campaigns to make naloxone available over-the-counter, to eliminate the outdated IMD exclusion and to advance the sharing of information in prescription drug monitoring programs on a national level.