A former president will be in the building on Monday in East Baltimore to talk about American’s worsening and deadly painkiller abuse problem.
Bill Clinton is on the roster of speakers for the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Oct. 30 conference, “America’s Opioid Epidemic: From Evidence to Impact.” His and Hillary’s charitable organization, The Clinton Foundation, is co-hosting the event.
The 42nd U.S. president has joined a chorus of leaders in describing the problem for what it is: A systematically driven scourge on the U.S. population. He’s among many pushing for a more coordinated, comprehensive public health response to the epidemic.
“It’s going to eat us all alive,” he warned at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in June, per The Hill.
He’s coming to town just after Maryland released its saddening second quarter data for fatal overdoses so far in 2017. According to the newest figures, 1,172 people died in Maryland from drug overdoses in the first six months of this year. Heroin is no longer the chief culprit; the data indicate fentanyl, its far more potent relative, was tied to about seven in 10 of those deaths through June.
Baltimore has borne the brunt of the problem, contributing a third of those nearly 1,200 deaths so far this year.
Clinton told the Bloomberg School’s magazine this fall, “often people who are hurting economically sometimes turn to pills and heroin as ways to alleviate some of their emotional pain. We need to figure out ways to address these basic causes, while also helping those who have fallen into addiction to escape them.”
He also pointed the finger in part at the pharmaceutical companies making the prescription drugs that get many people hooked in the first place, as well holes in the national health care system that give those firms “more leeway to advertise their products and more freedom to market to doctors than most other countries.”
Joining him on the expansive panel of speakers will be City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen; the school’s dean, Dr. Ellen J. Mackenzie; Baltimore-native Rep. Elijah Cummings; and G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, among others.
The conference’s website says seats have already filled up. For the rest of us, the school will be broadcasting the talk live starting at 10 a.m. via this webcast.
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