City Releases Comprehensive Plan To Address Opioid Addiction, Overdose In New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS – In response to the national opioid epidemic, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) and local public safety agencies along with community partners released a comprehensive plan to address opioid addiction and overdose in New Orleans.
The plan, released yesterday, Wednesday, Oct. 18, at a roundtable discussion and press conference at the University Medical Center Conference Center, 2000 Canal St., seeks to further increase access to naloxone, the overdose treatment; educate the community on overdose, prevention and addiction treatment; increase options for safe medication disposal to get unwanted prescription opioids out of homes quickly; engage pharmacies to increase opioid counseling at time of medication dispensing; and link nonfatal overdose victims in the emergency department directly with treatment resources.
“Across the country, our nation has witnessed the devastating effects of opioid addiction,” said Mayor Landrieu. “Right here in New Orleans, 166 of our brothers and sisters succumbed to opioid addiction last year and lost their lives to overdose. We can’t tackle this problem alone. That’s why releasing and executing this community-based response to address opioid addiction and overdose in New Orleans is so imperative. My administration, along with our community partners, pledge to work tirelessly to empower all New Orleanians to make a difference in the lives of those touched by opioid addiction while leveraging our medical, public health and criminal justice systems to best support those efforts.”
In January 2016, NOHD issued a public health advisory to notify the public of a significant increase in the number of heroin and opiate-related overdoses. As a result, the city’s medical director Dr. Joseph Kanter issued a standing order for anyone in New Orleans to be able to purchase naloxone, a drug commonly referred to as Narcan, without a separate prescription.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs awarded the NOHD three-year grant funding in the amount of $298,706 annually to address opioid use and prevention. The grant will support Emergency Room case management and referrals to treatment and social services for overdoes survivors. The NOHD will work with a myriad of partners over the three-year period, but will specifically partner with LCMC Health and the Metropolitan Health Services District (MHSD) to facilitate the programs, city reps said.
Louisiana Public Health Institute CEO Joe Kimbrell said, “The opioid epidemic is truly a public health crisis for our community, and we are committed to working collaboratively with the city and partners to address the problem through a coordinated, multi-sectored approach.”
Dr. Rochelle Head Dunham, executive and medical director of Metropolitan Human Services District, said, “MHSD is poised to continue providing comprehensive community-based prevention and treatment addiction services, while combining resources with the NOHD in addressing the opioid crisis.”
Jason Williams, councilmember-at-large, said, “This plan will save the lives of our residents who are vulnerable to addiction or death from opioids. The addiction crisis has been increasingly devastating in communities across the United States, and New Orleans has not been spared. Though the City Council and Administration have already taken steps to combat this crisis, this plan, when combined with my work de-criminalizing addiction through criminal justice reform, will close the gaps in addressing the addiction and death caused by opioids.”
District B Councilmember LaToya Cantrell said, “The opioid crisis has been a concern of mine for years, and I am encouraged that the administration is taking steps to address this terrible issue.”
The city has also issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from law firms licensed to practice in the State of Louisiana interested to determine claims against pharmaceutical companies and distributors for their role in the opioid crisis. The proposals should include how the firms would provide the services needed.