New Orleans Announces Plan to Address Opioid Addiction, Overdoses

"Right here in New Orleans, 166 of our brothers and sisters succumbed to opioid addiction last year and lost their lives to overdose. We can't tackle this problem alone," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the New Orleans Health Department, and other local public safety agencies and community partners released what they called a comprehensive plan on Oct. 18 to address opioid addiction and overdoses in the city of New Orleans. The plan calls for increased access to naloxone; community education; increased options for safe medication disposal; engaging pharmacies to increase opioid counseling when medication is dispensed; and linking nonfatal overdose victims in the emergency department directly with treatment resources.

"Across the country, our nation has witnessed the devastating effects of opioid addiction. Right here in New Orleans, 166 of our brothers and sisters succumbed to opioid addiction last year and lost their lives to overdose. We can't tackle this problem alone. That's why releasing and executing this community-based response to address opioid addiction and overdose in New Orleans is so imperative," Landrieu said. "My administration, along with our community partners, pledge to work tirelessly to empower all New Orleanians to make a difference in the lives of those touched by opioid addiction while leveraging our medical, public health, and criminal justice systems to best support those efforts."

The health department issued a public health advisory in January 2016 about a significant increase in heroin- and opiate-related overdoses, and the city's medical director, Dr. Joseph Kanter, issued a standing order for anyone in New Orleans to be able to purchase naloxone without a separate prescription. (For participating pharmacies, visit www.nola.gov/health-department.)

"The opioid epidemic is truly a public health crisis for our community, and we are committed to working collaboratively with the city and partners to address the problem through a coordinated, multi-sectored approach," Louisiana Public Health Institute CEO Joe Kimbrell said Oct. 18. Dr. Rochelle Head Dunham, executive and medical director of the Metropolitan Human Services District, said MHSD "is poised to continue providing comprehensive community-based prevention and treatment addiction services, while combining resources with the NOHD in addressing the opioid crisis."

The city also announced it has issued a Request for Proposals from law firms licensed to practice in the state of Louisiana interested to determine claims against pharmaceutical companies and distributors for their role in the opioid crisis.

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