Tomorrow, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Dr. Rebekah Gee, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), will attend a listening session at the White House at the invitation of President Donald J. Trump.  The listening session will be in an effort to address the nation’s opioid crisis.  Also participating in the event are Governors Bill Walker (I-Alaska), Chris Christie (R-N.J.), Chris Sununu (R-N.H.), Matt Bevin (Ky.), and Paul LePage (R-Maine).  The governors will be joined by three Attorneys General and eight state public health directors. 

Gov. Edwards will also meet privately with Acting Drug Czar Richard Baum at the White House to discuss drug and addiction trends in Louisiana, information about Gov. Edwards' priorities related to drug use, and opportunities to collaborate with the White House in the future.

“The opioid epidemic is sweeping the country, and opioid-related deaths in Louisiana are on the rise,” said Gov. Edwards. “We’re doing our part in Louisiana, and I appreciate President Trump highlighting this important issue.  Dr. Gee and I are looking forward to discussing Louisiana’s efforts to combat this crisis and to learn best practices from other states.”

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Louisiana Dept. of Health (LDH) show that the abuse of opioids in Louisiana is prevalent:

  • Louisiana is one of 20 states with a significant increase in opioid deaths. (CDC)
  • Louisiana had a 12 percent increase in deaths resulting from opioid overdose for 2014-2015.  (CDC)
  • Louisiana had 478 (17 per 100,000) fatal drug overdoses in 2014.(LDH)
  • Data from 2013-2015 indicates there were 6,252 opioid-related substance abuse treatment admissions in Louisiana. (LDH)
  • Since the Prescription Monitoring Program began monitoring narcotic prescribing behavior, Louisiana has averaged 110 prescriptions per 100 people. Meaning, we have more prescriptions for narcotics than we have residents. (LDH)

In the 2017 Regular Legislative Session, Gov. Edwards signed a bill into law by Representatives Heleno Moreno and Kirk Talbot that limits first-time prescriptions of opioids for acute pain to a seven day supply, with exceptions when medically appropriate.

Last month, Louisiana joined dozens of other cities, counties and states in filing a lawsuit in response to the alarming number of cases of opioid addition and opioid-related deaths throughout the country. Lawsuits were also filed by local sheriff’s offices in Avoyelles, Lafayette, Jefferson Davis and Rapides Parishes.

Also last month, Louisiana received a donation of 4,000 naloxone auto-injectors from kaléo Pharma. The donation was made available through the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services to first-responders across the state in an effort to reduce the number of overdoses from opioid abuse. It also included 2,000 voice-activated training devices.