AMA's "Opioid Task Force 2019 Progress Report”

The AMA Opioid Task Force urges physicians and other health care professions to continue taking action to help reverse the nation’s opioid epidemic, and the Task Force also calls on policymakers to take specific steps to remove barriers to evidence-based care for patients with pain and those with a substance use disorder. The 2019 progress report highlights physician action and the immediate need for policymakers to focus on removing barriers to evidence-based treatment.

  • America’s physicians are using state prescription drug monitoring programs more than ever.
  • The AMA Opioid Task Force encourages all physicians to enhance their education.
  • The AMA Opioid Task Force urges expanded access to Naloxone.

> Download the Report

Ventura County: 2018 Overdose Report

dr young

 Christopher R. Young, M.D. Chief Medical Examiner

1,563 deaths were reported to the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office during calendar year 2018. Jurisdiction was accepted for 806 of these deaths, requiring further investigation and certification. Postmortem examinations were performed on 626 cases. Of the cases investigated, 170 deaths were due to medications, alcohol and or illicit drugs. Of the 170 deaths, 156 were accidents, 13 were suicide and one death was undetermined.

Of the overdose deaths, men accounted for 112 deaths (65.7%) and women accounted for 58 deaths (34.3%). Multiple drugs or medications may be involved in one case; therefore, one should not add the numbers of individual substances. The same case may be represented multiple times by different drugs or drug categories.

Noteworthy trends:

  • Total overdose deaths jumped by 49 between 2016 and 2017 but only increased by 5 between 2017 and 2018. Accidental overdoses rose by 37 between 2016 and 2017 and by 14 between 2017 and 2018.
  • Of the specific drug types and categories, the largest increase in 2018 involved methamphetamine (up 28 compared to 2017).
  • Except for ethanol, all drug types and categories increased compared to 2017 (opioid, heroin, fentanyl, benzodiazepine, methamphetamine and cocaine).
  • The highest rate of overdose deaths in 2018 was between ages 51 to 60 years (48 deaths).
  • Of the 40 deaths involving benzodiazepines, all were mixed substance overdoses with the exception of one suicide.

> Download the Report

> Letter from the Medical Examiner

> HOOKED | Overdose deaths up in 2018, though no one drug is to blame, VC Reporter, May 20, 2019

Countdown to the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit 2018 – April 2-5, Atlanta, GA

Since 2012, the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit has been a venue where leaders from diverse backgrounds come together with solutions for a common goal in addressing the Opioid crisis. It is the annual gathering for stakeholders to discuss what’s working in prevention and treatment. This year, a delegation from Ventura County, including staff, Prevention contract providers, and more will be attending. We are honored that two VCBH proposals were approved by the Summit this year: 1) Safe Alprazolam Prescribing and Benzodiazepine Monitoring Program, Brian S. Taylor, MD, Medical Director, VCBH; Celia Woods, MD, Quality Medical Director, VCBH and 2) The Intersection of Law Enforcement and Healthcare: Increased Utilization of California's PDMP, Victor Fazio, EdD, MACJ, Detective Sergeant, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office; Dan Hicks, Manager Prevention Services, VCBH.

We look forward to networking, sharing our Ventura County experiences on a national platform, and gaining new ideas and momentum to continue our good work. 

Follow us live from the Summit on Twitter at twitter.com/VCLimits #venturacountyresponds

Opioid Solutions Summit, August 29, 2017

1opioid summit

 

The Opioid Solutions Summit presented Ventura County's response to the growing problem of prescription pain medication and heroin abuse. Labeled a nationwide crisis and epidemic, reports from professionals and the community made it clear that this region was far from immune. Confronting prescription drug and heroin abuse is essential to protecting the public health and safety of all Ventura County residents. Featured speakers included Sam Quinones, Journalist and Author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, and Danny Trejo, Iconic Actor, Producer and Recovery Advocate.

Read more at Opioid Solutions Summit

Informing the Community: Plane of Pills Media Event 2016

To earn media attention and spread the word about the epidemic of painkiller overdoses, the Ventura County Rx Abuse & Heroin Workgroup hosted a press event on May 18, 2016, to unveil the Plane of Pills campaign. Featuring concerns by the CA Department of Justice and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, resulting stories in local papers, radio and social media increased awareness of the enormity of the painkiller overdose problem. The workgroup is a multiagency collaboration, including the Medical Examiner, Public Health, Sheriff’s Department, Behavioral Health and others committed to reducing Rx drug-related problems. Featured speakers included Mike Small, California Department of Justice, CURES Program Manager, Gary Pentis, Undersheriff, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and Patrick Zarate, Ventura County Prescription Drug Abuse Workgroup Chair.

The mission of California's Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) is to facilitate safe prescribing and dispensing of controlled drugs to minimize prescription drug related deaths and injuries. Local prescribers are registering and utilizing the CURES 2.0 at increasing rates. The interactive CURES database provides the highest level of prescription drug monitoring available. It discourages “doctor shopping,” reduces overprescribing, contains information on the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances, including opioids, and protects patients who require painkiller medication. Our objective is to encourage and facilitate CURES registration and utilization with local education, on-site training, and promotion.

Read more at California's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (CURES) Media Event

 

plane of pills poster

Safe Pain Medicine Prescribing Policy Launched Countywide, January 29, 2015

Hospitals Unite on New Pain Meds Policy – Collaboration to Counter Drug Abuse, Improve Emergency Department Care

This multi-agency collaboration focused on preventing Rx drug misuse. Agencies included Ventura County Behavioral Health, Ventura County Public Health, Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, and Allied Emergency Departments Countywide. The new policy, used by all eight emergency departments includes:

  • When necessary, limited amounts of pain killers will be prescribed
  • EDs will not refill stolen prescriptions, but may refer patients to police
  • May ask people to show a photo ID when receiving a pain prescription
  • All patients will be provided copies of new prescribing policy

By adopting uniform policies, a consistent message was provided to patients countywide about how powerful prescription medications are made available in the Emergency Department.

Read more at Safe Opioid Prescribing Media Event

 

vcr safeprescribing er event

L. to R.: Dr. Julia Feig, Dr. Celia Woods, Dr. Neil Canby, Dr. Carlo Reyes, Dr. Anthony H. Ho, Dr. Thomas Duncan and Dr. Martin Ehrlich



©2019 Ventura County Behavioral Health • Hanstad Consulting • Website: Idea Engineering