Sen. Blunt holds conference on opioid crisis in Springfield

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Senator Roy Blunt met with more than a dozen local medical leaders in Springfield to discuss their needs in combating the opioid epidemic in Missouri.

Sen. Blunt has held hearings on the subject in Washington, D.C. recently, and says he is committed to allocating resources to the problem going forward.

He said the most eye opening things he’s learned is of the dangers to first responders when trying to help someone who’s overdosed. The victim’s behavior may be unpredictable if they experience sudden withdrawal symptoms.

Another focus of the afternoon was to come up with strategies that hospitals could employ to try to prescribe less habit-forming opioid pain-killers going forward.

“[We need to] research into widely used pain medicines that don't create the addictive quality that opioids do,” Sen. Blunt said.

“I think there's some feeling that we should never have pain, and I don't think that's a great philosophy,” Cox Health’s Dr. Howard Jarvis says. “There's a reason sometimes that we're hurting, and if it's a temporary type of issue then getting the pain to a manageable level is great, but it shouldn't always be narcotics.

Another proposed solution was to establish a database of prescribed opioids in Missouri that doctors could use to check a patient’s history with the addictive substances. Missouri is the only state that doesn’t have a network like this, although Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield have set up a network of their own.

Sen. Blunt says he supports this idea (which failed in the state legislature last year), but pointed out that the database won’t cure the opioid crisis alone.

“It's a problem that will require a multi-factorial solution, so a drug database is a great thing to have,” Dr. Jarvis said. “I can tell you from speaking to physicians in other states that have that tool that it clearly keeps them from writing additional prescriptions.”

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.