Oregon, Canada, DEA Announce New Steps in Opioids Crisis

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is issuing an executive order declaring addiction and substance abuse to be a public health crisis in Oregon, and Canada’s minister of health announced new research projects and amendments to expand access to treatment options.

Oregon's governor and Canada's minister of health are announcing new steps this week to address the ongoing opioids crisis. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is issuing an executive order declaring addiction and substance abuse to be a public health crisis in Oregon, and the Canadian health minister, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, announced new research projects and amendments to expand access to treatment options.

The Drug Enforcement Administration also announced it will add 250 task force officers and dozens of additional analysts to areas across America where the opioid crisis is at its worst. "DEA highly values its partnerships with task force officers and their parent agencies. These additional assets will strengthen the work DEA is already doing every day to make a difference in the fight against opioid abuse," said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. "Positioning more robust resources such as task force officers in areas hardest hit by this epidemic will provide the strength and support needed to tackle this crisis in regions that need it most." Opioids were responsible for about 42,000 of the 64,000 U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2016, according to the agency.

Brown also signed two bills into law: HB 4143, which she introduced to the legislature, focuses on measures to combat the opioid epidemic in the state, while HB 4137 and her executive order require the state Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to create a statewide strategic plan around prevention, treatment, and recovery and to issue a Request for Proposal for the full report this fall.

"Addiction is an issue that unites us all, as we feel the impacts of substance abuse every day, either through personal struggle or through our families, friends, and colleagues," Brown said. "We must break through the barriers of shame to provide the best possible treatments first and the most effective assistance now."

In Ottawa on March 26, Petitpas Taylor announced that the Canadian government is removing barriers to accessing diacetylmorphine (prescription heroin) and methadone for the treatment of opioid use disorder. She also announced $18 million in federal investments for six projects under the Substance Use and Addictions Program and 10 research projects related to opioids funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The projects will explore drug checking in supervised consumption sites, opioid use in pain management, the development of guidance material for prevention and treatment of opioid use disorder, and to look at how opioid-related treatment can better address the needs of women.

There also are a total of $231.4 million in investments proposed in the government's 2018 budget proposal that include:

  • $150 million in emergency funding for provinces and territories to increase access to evidence-based treatment
  • $13.5 million toward innovative approaches to treatment and prevention through Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program
  • $31.6 million to equip border officers with tools to intercept fentanyl and other dangerous substances at the border

Government projections suggest more than 4,000 people died in 2017 in Canada from opioid overdoses.

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