Pitt law class develops 5 new policies to reduce opioid overdose deaths

A public health law class at the University of Pittsburgh presented policy recommendations for the reduction of opioid-related overdose deaths to the Allegheny County Health Department. The recommendations were recently shared at the American Public Health Association 2016 Annual Meeting & Exposition in Denver.

The class, led by Elizabeth Van Nostrand, JD, assistant professor of health policy and management at Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health and adjunct professor at Pitt's School of Law, spent a semester researching use of the anti-opioid overdose drug naloxone. The class then issued recommendations complete with legal information to facilitate implementation of the policies to local agencies. The most recent completed semester focused on policy surrounding the use of the anti-opioid overdose drug naloxone.

Here are the five policies highlighted in a 122-page reported the class sent to the county health department.

1. Upon release from county jail, offer naloxone and educational training for use to inmates with a history of opioid abuse.

2. Offer medication-assisted treatment to inmates with opioid abuse disorders.

3. Work with the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System and community partners to provide naloxone to veterans and their families who need the drug.

4. Deliver naloxone and in-person proper use training to first-responders.

5. Expand opioid abuse data sharing among community and governmental partners and expand publicly available opioid epidemic data sources.

"Heroin-related deaths have tripled in the past decade. There is no quick fix to the opioid overdose epidemic," said Ms. Van Nostrand. "And that is why carefully implemented, evidence-based policy is so crucial. We have limited resources, and they need to be used as effectively as possible, which is what good health policy does."

More articles on population health: 
Mental health professionals say 2016 election brought increase in anxiety, other disorders 
New legislative package aims to combat the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania 
University Hospitals join statewide initiative to adopt child abuse identification protocols

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