Gov. Edwards praises passage of legislation to fight opioid epidemic

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

On June 1, Gov. John Bel Edwards praised the passage of a measure included in his legislative agenda aimed at reducing Louisiana’s increasing opioid epidemic. House Bill 192 co-authored by Rep. Helena Moreno (D-District 93) and Rep. Kirk Talbot (R-District 78) limits first-time prescriptions of opioids for acute pain to a seven day supply, with exceptions when medically appropriate.

Given the increasing abuse of opioids in our state and nation, these bills could save the lives of those who are at risk of becoming addicted and consequently prevent their family and friends from the heartache that comes from seeing their loved-ones suffer,” said Gov. Edwards. “I am appreciative of the bipartisan work of Representatives Moreno and Talbot for working with our state’s health care providers and each other on behalf of the people of Louisiana. Their concern for our citizens as well as those lawmakers who also supported the bills proves that when it comes to doing what’s right, our focus should be and can be on our people rather than politics.”

Opioid abuse is a concern as 80 percent of heroin users reported starting out by misusing prescription opioids,” said Dept. of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee. “I’m proud that under Gov. Edwards and our legislative leaders, Louisiana is moving boldly to address the opioid crisis. This legislation is crucial to helping reduce the number of unnecessary overdose deaths in Louisiana.”

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Louisiana Dept. of Health (LDH) show that the abuse of opioids in Louisiana is prevalent:

1. Louisiana is one of 20 states with a significant increase in opioid deaths. (CDC)

2. Louisiana had a 12 percent increase in deaths resulting from opioid overdose for 2014-2015. (CDC)

3. Louisiana had 478 (17 per 100,000) fatal drug overdoses in 2014.(LDH)

4. Data from 2013-2015 indicates there were 6,252 opioid-related substance abuse treatment admissions in Louisiana. (LDH)

5. Since the Prescription Monitoring Program began monitoring narcotic prescribing behavior, Louisiana has averaged 122 prescriptions per 100 people. Meaning, we have more prescriptions for narcotics than we have residents. (LDH)

In addition to Representatives Moreno and Talbot, HB 192 was co-authored by Representatives Lawrence Bagley (R-District 7); Dodie Horton (R-District 9); Robert Johnson (D-District 28); Jerome Richard (I-District 55); and Joseph Stagni (R-District 92).

This is a pivotal time in Louisiana’s fight against the opioid crisis, and this legislation is a responsible way to decrease the rate of abuse we’re experiencing,” said Rep. Moreno. “I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues and Gov. Edwards on a bill that will make a real difference in the lives of the people we serve.”

Contributed Report