MSU's Psychiatry Chair Praises Declaration of Opioids As Public Health Emergency

Oct 26, 2017

The chair of Michigan State University's  Department of Psychiatry said the decision to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency will help divert resources to stopping the epidemic. 

2335 people in Michigan died from drug overdoses last year. - Michigan Dept. of Health & Human Services

Dr. Jed Magen said it is "high time" for the declaration.

"This is an issue that had been simmering for years and really exploded over the last couple of years," said Dr. Magen. "You have 150 maybe more people dying everyday from overdoses of opiates in this country. It's really a huge problem. There's no end in sight." 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported that 2335 people in Michigan died from drug overdoses last year. The agency said that is more than car wreck.

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Trump's declaration, which will be effective for 90 days and can be renewed, will allow the government to redirect resources, including toward expanded access to medical services in rural areas. But it won't bring new dollars to fight a scourge that kills nearly 100 Americans a day.

Dr. Magen detailed what the change will mean for Michigan.

"It suspends some Medicaid rules around what they can pay for," said Dr. Magen. "To some extent, it will allow more people to get into withdrawl treatments. Secondly, it really allows better coordination among federal agencies."

"As Americans we cannot allow this to continue," Trump said in a speech at the White House, where he bemoaned an epidemic he said had spared no segment of American society, affecting rural areas and cities, the rich and the poor and both the elderly and newborns.