The effort to raise public awareness about opiate abuse has been noticeably paying off, legislators boast. State Representative Gary Tauchen explains the Prescription Pill Monitoring Program has really helped in the fight.
“That helps physicians and pharmacists track painkillers and other opiates with the help of establishing best practices when it comes to prescribing them,” said Representative Tauchen. “It really has had an impact. The Controlled Substances Board Report shows that there were 8.2 million fewer opiates dispensed this last quarter and that’s a 10 percent decline in the number of prescriptions written and filled.”
Other efforts to raise awareness are seen by the turnout of prescription drug collection events, which already has garnered a strong reputation, says Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel.
“In the four Drug Take Back days since I’ve been Attorney General, we’ve collected over 207,000 pounds of unused medications,” Schimel reported.
Schimel argues that Wisconsin’s Dose of Reality media campaign has also made a positive impact, considering other states are choosing to adopt Wisconsin’s strategy.
“One state that’s already implemented it, they’ve already asked us permission to just take it and use this, and two other states are in negotiations with our PR company to do it as well,” said Schimel.
Despite all of the positives signs towards effectively fighting opiate abuse in Wisconsin, State Legislators like Gary Tauchen acknowledge there is still work to be done, which is why Governor Walker has an opiate task force chaired by Representative John Nygren and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. The committee held its first meeting in early December.
“They had experts on pain management, people that were in recovery, law enforcement, people with addiction that were there testifying, and they’re using it as a way to gather ideas and information and hopefully developing new recommendations that help when it comes to problems with opiate abuse. I’m looking forward to what they bring forward in that area because there’s a long way to go when it comes to that.”
The issues of opiate abuse will remain a topic of focus in the State Assembly for the years to come.