Opinion Editorial by Timothy J. Stapleton, CEO, Florida Medical Association — The United States is in the midst of a public health crisis. Opioid addiction is taking mothers, fathers and children; destroying lives, breaking up families. The problem is particularly insidious in Florida, which has become a destination for rehabilitative services and sober home living. In the first part of 2016, approximately 2,600 people died from opioid overdoses in the state and the epidemic shows no sign of slowing.
Gov. Rick Scott recently declared a public health emergency over this crisis, which frees up nearly $30 million in federal funds to fight this battle for Floridians. State Surgeon General Dr. Celeste Philip has been directed to keep a standing order of Narcan and naloxone – drugs used to counteract overdoses – at the ready, and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was recently appointed to President Donald Trump’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission, has secured a deal for the two drugs to be purchased at a discounted rate.
The Florida Medical Association (FMA), which represents more than 20,000 physicians in the state and provides them with access to expert advice, support and resources, believes that it’s up to all of us to come together as a community to fight this rampant problem at every level: education, prevention, treatment and recovery services. Physicians can effect positive change by staying educated on best practices and effectively communicating with their patients about treatment protocols for pain management. There is an inherent risk in prescribing highly addictive medications, particularly for patients suffering from severe chronic pain.
For the entire opinion editorial via the June 11, 2017 Palm Beach Post, please click here.