The Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the US Attorney’s Offices for the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa will co-host a community forum to discuss prescription pain killers, opioid abuse, and the nation’s heroin epidemic.
“Prescription Pain Killers and the Heroin Epidemic” will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium on Drake’s campus, located at 2507 University Ave., Des Moines. A variety of health professionals, including a number of Drake faculty members, will present during the forum, which is open to the public and tailored to parents and teachers.
“Prescription drugs are important for patients with acute or chronic pain. However, there has been an increased usage of medications like opioids that have led to abuse, addiction and overdose. This has created a serious public health issue,” said Renae Chesnut, dean of the Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “Our pharmacy program is partnering with the Iowa-based U.S. Attorney’s Offices to use this forum as an opportunity to collaborate and educate on prevention, treatment, and recovery strategies.”
Chesnut will moderate the Aug. 2 forum. Additional Drake CPHS participants include Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice Frank Caligiuri, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice Sarah Grady, and Associate Professor of Pharmacology Craige Wrenn.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 4 out of 5 current heroin users starting on prescription opioids, according to a news release from the US Attorney’s Office.
The epidemic has prompted major state and federal action in recent weeks and months. In mid-July, 46 state governors, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, signed a Compact to Fight Opioid Addiction. The compact commits governors to new steps to reduce inappropriate prescription of opioids, to reframe the nation’s understanding of opioids and addiction, and ensure a pathway for recovery for individuals suffering from addiction. On July 22, President Obama signed a new law that seeks to address America’s opioid crisis through treatment and overdose prevention and includes special consideration for babies born addicted to the drugs.
Against this national backdrop, the Aug. 2 community forum is primarily intended to help the citizens of central Iowa understand the severity of the opioid epidemic. Attendees will hear the personal story of a parent of a victim of heroin overdose. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.