Monday, November 3, 2014

Political Propaganda: ONDCP Praises MD's Efforts on Overdose

Below is a press release from Maryland's Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. Looks to me like the incumbents had to call in a favor from their friends at the White House in light of Larry Hogan's proactive promise to call a state of emergency as a result of the opiate epidemic's rising death toll.  
Mr. Botticelli did you intentionally join the Governor in his attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the Maryland public or did he have you fooled, too? 
First of all, Mr. Botticelli, how could you assume that "Maryland is assigning the highest priority to addressing the overdose epidemic", when the Governor cut the treatment budget by 6.4 million dollars not even a year ago.  
Second, for Mr. O'Malley to make a thing a "goal" but take no action toward accomplishing that goal, is called "political spin" to policy makers, and... well.... "a bunch of bull" to many down home Marylanders.
Third, access to Naloxone does not "help people enter treatment."  In fact, after an overdose, the state does absolutely nothing to ensure that anyone gets into treatment.  There are no bed-to-bed transfers --or even referrals. After an overdose, the individual is simply sent back to their same environment without treatment or any intervention at all for that matter --still addicted.  
Fourth, Marylanders are wondering exactly what "broad set of strategies to address this crisis" you are referring to Mr. Sharfstein?  --And why on earth you waited so long (right before the election) to announce them, when our kids have been dying for the past four years --as we have told you repeatedly.  
Fifth, while Marylanders are very happy that "In March 2014, DHMH launched the Overdose Response Program," we are more than a little disappointed that it took volunteer parents a lot of unpaid time off work to find a legislator to force you to adopt that program via legislation.  We would find it a lot more palatable when you pat yourself on the back for something that your constituents forced upon you, if you and your staff were more inviting to your statewide network of family peer support advocates.  That way, we could initiate policy to save our own children's lives without always having to go through the legislature.   
Sixth, The reason why families spent their time initiating this bill was so families --THE REAL FIRST RESPONDERS, would have access to Naloxone. However, you gave grants to counties to pay EMT's and police officers to be equipped with Naloxone --while us family members STILL do not have the Naloxone that WE lobbied for and who provisions were made for in the Overdose Prevention "Naloxone" Bill.
Seventh, the state's "public information campaign" consists of some posters and a FaceBook page. Perhaps you should hire Anthony Brown's public information campaign Manager.  I am quite sure that he will tell you, Mr. O'Malley, that television is the way to go --albeit, more expensive.  But, if you guys can raise those kinds of funds to get re-elected, surely you can raise those kinds of funds to save the youth of your state --to save so many mothers the heartbreak of having to bury a child?  
At any rate, the families who care about your message ARE NOT BUYING IT --and the families who don't care ARE NOT READING IT.  So how about saving the political rhetoric for your cocktail parties, Mr. O'Malley.  We mothers of children with a substance use disorder DO NOT DESERVE IT!  
Lisa Lowe, Heroin Action Coalition                                                       

White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy
Praises Maryland Efforts on Overdose
DHMH Expands Access to Reversal Drug
 Baltimore, MD (October 29, 2014) – The White House Office charged with leading the country’s fight to reduce drug use is praising the efforts of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) to combat substance use and its consequences in Maryland. 
Michael Botticelli, the acting director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), met with DHMH officials last week and reviewed the department’s strategies to combat substance abuse and overdose deaths in Maryland. In a Oct. 27, 2014, letter addressed to DHMH Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, Botticelli writes: “Maryland is assigning the highest priority to addressing the overdose epidemic affecting many states in our nation. There is much many other states can learn from your efforts.” 
“Overdose deaths are an epidemic affecting states across the country,” Gov. O’Malley said. “Combating this scourge and reducing overdose deaths by 20% by the end of 2015 is one of the 16 strategic goals of the O’Malley-Brown Administration.”  
This letter of support comes as DHMH announces the expansion of access to life-saving medication naloxone to Medicaid enrollees. Naxolone is used to reverse the effects of an overdose from opioid drugs like heroin. As a result of the change to the Medicaid pharmacy benefit, doctors can write prescriptions for the medication to enrollees without preauthorization. DHMH is reaching out to prescribing physicians and drug treatment programs with guidance on how to prescribe. 
“Greater access to naloxone will lead to more opportunities to save lives and help people enter treatment,” said Sharfstein. “We appreciate the support of ONDCP as we pursue a broad set of strategies to address this crisis.” 
Expanding naloxone access to Medicaid enrollees builds upon Maryland’s efforts to expand the overdose remedy statewide. In March 2014, DHMH launched the Overdose Response Program, which authorizes local entities to train and certify qualified individuals to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose by administering naloxone. DHMH has trained more than 3,200 individuals through this program. 
The State Police have committed to having all road patrol troopers trained and equipped with naloxone. The State requires every Emergency Medical Technician across the state to be trained in the administration of intranasal naloxone and every Public Safety transport unit to carry naloxone. It also builds upon the state’s public information campaign, “Be a Hero,” which emphasizes the importance of substance use treatment and provides facts about reversing a drug overdose. 

In June, Governor O'Malley issued an executive order establishing a statewide task force and initiating a broad range of efforts against overdose. Click here for more information on Maryland’s efforts on Overdose Prevention.   

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