Governor O’Malley joins Federal, State and Local Officials to Discuss Drug Overdoses

ELKTON (August 9, 2013) – Governor Martin O’Malley today joined federal, state and local officials at a public roundtable to address drug overdose deaths in Cecil County and statewide, and discuss efforts to prevent overdoses and increase access to substance abuse treatment. Maryland has adopted a new strategic goal to reduce overdose deaths 20 percent statewide by the end of 2015.

After declining between 2007 and 2011, the number of overdose deaths in Maryland increased 15 percent from 2011 to 2012. A 54 percent rise in heroin-related deaths accounted for this increase, reflecting a shift away from prescription opioids to heroin involvement in fatal overdoses – a trend that has been observed across the country. From 2007 to 2012, Cecil County had the second highest overdose death rate, behind Baltimore City.

“Drug abuse and overdose deaths are a problem in our State. We’re losing more Marylanders to heroin alone than to homicides – and the need is especially great in Cecil County,” said Governor O’Malley. “That’s why we set and surpassed the goal to expand substance abuse services by the end of 2012 and together, we can reduce overdose deaths 20 percent statewide by the end of 2015. By working to lift our fellow Marylanders out of addiction, we expand opportunity and make neighborhoods safer for our families.”

Between Fiscal Year 2010 and Fiscal Year 2012, Maryland expanded treatment services by 26 percent, surpassing the O’Malley/Brown Administration’s goal of increasing treatment by 25 percent. In January 2013, DHMH released its Maryland Opioid Overdose Prevention Plan, a statewide strategy for reducing overdose deaths related to pharmaceutical opioids and heroin.

“It is important for communities to come together to address the serious public health problem of drug overdose,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“The collaboration between public safety and public health agencies is a powerful partnership for combatting the problem of drug overdoses,” said Tammy Brown, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. “While law enforcement can work to stop drug traffickers, the medical community can work to prevent or treat addiction. It is an effective combination for good in Maryland.”

Components of the state’s plan include:

·         Improved analysis of data on overdose and opioid abuse trends

·         Continuing to increase access to substance use disorder treatment, including evidence-based treatment of opioid dependence with methadone and buprenorphine

·         Instituting a public health focus on opioid overdose that includes local, multidisciplinary reviews of fatal overdose incidents

·         Initiatives to reduce Rx opioid abuse

·         Supporting implementation of naloxone programs under Senate Bill 610, passed in 2013

·         Development of local overdose prevention plans by Local Health Departments

“Cecil County has a long history of community collaboration to solve problems,” said County Executive Tari Moore. “The high rate of overdose deaths in Cecil County can be reduced by implementing the initiatives identified in our local overdose prevention plan. We welcome State support in tackling this very important issue.”

To strengthen critical information sharing for this cause, Maryland’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) will launch later this fall. For the first time, comprehensive information on controlled substances prescribed and dispensed to patients in the State will be made available to doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare providers. The PDMP will also support investigations of illegal prescription drug diversion, healthcare fraud and illegitimate professional practice.

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