Top federal official visits Quincy to talk opioid crisis - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Top federal official visits Quincy to talk opioid crisis

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Tom Price addressing the media at Quincy Medical Group Tom Price addressing the media at Quincy Medical Group
QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

A top federal official was in Quincy on Thursday to discuss the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price made a stop at Quincy Medical Group. The goal was to find ways to help stop the opioid epidemic not only across the nation, but right here in the Tri-States.

Prescription pain killers killed 33,000 people just two years ago, according to federal statistics.

Secretary Price and Congressman Darin LaHood toured the Adams County 911 center, as they discuss efforts to fight opioid abuse.

"The opioid crisis is one that is one of the top three priorities for our department and it is so for a variety of reasons," Price said. Not the least of which being that we are losing this battle across the country."

Opioids like codeine, fentanyl and morphine are common medications doctors prescribe for pain. Doctors said they can be highly addictive and it's time to talk alternatives.

"Massage therapy, occasionally there's nerve stimulation," Richard Schlepphorst, the chief medical officer at QMG said. "There's a number of strategies that are employed to try and address pain without using or turning to narcotics and opiates and risking addiction."

Price added that focusing on treating addiction is an important step in reducing overdose deaths.

"If we could truly as a nation, identify a vaccine for addiction, wouldn't that be an exciting prospect and such a great help to our fellow citizens," Price said.

Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley said it's a growing problem and they are cracking down on how it's getting to the streets.

"Since we started carrying the narcan in our squad cars last year we have used them around 20 times," Copley added. "So working on the supply chain is our best avenue."

LaHood said Illinois is heading in the right direction by passing the 21st Century Cures Act last year which gave over $16-million in funding for treating opioid addiction, but he said more still needs to be done.

"We now have more people killed by heroin and opioid overdoses than we do in car accidents now," LaHood said. So in D.C. and here locally, we can't let up on this."

Both LaHood and Price said they will be going back to D.C. focusing on how to limit uses of opioid in pain treatments and getting the overdose antidote Narcan in the hands of more first responders across the country.
 

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