State hearing set on abuse of prescription drugs, opioids

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is planning a public hearing to receive input on fighting abuse of prescription drugs and opium derivatives such as heroin.

The hearing Tuesday in the state Capitol building will be led by the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force. Snyder created the group last month and tasked Lt. Gov. Brian Calley with chairing it. It’s scheduled for 5-7 p.m.

“We are eager to hear the ideas and thoughts of our state’s concerned residents in order to develop a more effective strategy to address this critical issue,” Calley said in a statement last week.

The state budget that will take effect in October includes $1.5 million to address prescription drug and painkiller abuse.

“Prescription drug and opioid addiction has quadrupled the number of unintentional drug deaths in our state since 1999,” Calley said when the task force was launched in June. “We must come together to reverse this trend before more Michiganders are hurt.”

State Attorney General Bill Schuette, Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, Licensing and Regulation Department Director Mike Zimmer and state police Director Kriste Kibbey Etue also are serving on the task force. Its 21 members also include Detroit Police Chief James Craig, state legislators and other law enforcement and health officials.

“The damaging effects of drugs like opioids are hurting our families and communities,” Schuette said in a statement. “We must work together to help end this growing epidemic before it hurts public safety and our economic recovery.”

Last year, the state took a step to help cut down on deaths from use of drugs like heroin. Snyder signed legislation requiring emergency medical responders to receive training to administer antidotes for opioids.

In late May, the federal government reported that more than 60 people have died of overdoses of heroin and fentanyl, another opioid, in southeastern Michigan’s populous Wayne and Washtenaw counties so far this year. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a nationwide alert warning people about widespread street sales of fentanyl-laced heroin.

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Online:

Task force: http://1.usa.gov/1I3iBO6

Hearing details: http://1.usa.gov/1RHK56Q

DEA alert: http://1.usa.gov/1DF6M2V

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