A letter from Colorado’s CMO

Friday, September 01, 2017 12:12 PM
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Larry Wolk, MD, MSPH, addresses Colorado physicians about opioid abuse public health emergency

by Larry Wolk, MD, MSPH

Opioid abuse is one of the most significant health threats facing far too many Coloradans and our health care system. As physicians, we understand firsthand the significance of our role in helping to address what many have now classified as a public health emergency. Whether prescriptive or illicit, opioid abuse almost always begins with diversion of prescriptive opiates. Many may point fingers at physicians and prescribers but more importantly, I believe that we are a significant part of the solution.

For those who joined in the early initiatives launched by the governor in 2013, our efforts have changed opioid prescribing and how pain is managed.  There are fewer prescriptions and fewer prescriptive drugs available for diversion. There are more medication disposal and takeback sites, taking more opiates and other harmful drugs off the streets. And with the broader availability and use of naloxone, we have fewer deaths directly related to opiate overdose. But there is much more to be done. As we continue to work to reduce the availability of opioids for nonmedical use, the danger has shifted to street drugs like black tar heroin and adulterated, illegally imported fentanyl. It is a moral and economic burden that compels the expertise and creative collaboration of the medical community, our state officials and our allies among other health care professionals and organizations.

The governor, my state agency colleagues and I will continue to work closely with you and your experts on the next generation of strategies, taking full advantage of the important role you play in addressing this crisis. We will need your sustained effort, whether innovating through our own consortium or as we import successful models and interventions from across the country to adapt to Colorado.

I look forward to our continued partnership and thank you in advance for your commitment to making a difference in the health and lives of the people of Colorado. Our work together is certain to get us closer to truly becoming the healthiest state!

In good health,

Larry Wolk, MD, MSPH

Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Posted in: Colorado Medicine | Initiatives | Prescription Drug Abuse


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