Indiana drug czar: Slow progress against state’s opioid crisis

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CBS4 This Morning Anchor Frank Mickens recently sat down with Indiana’s drug czar, the man Governor Eric Holcomb hired to pull us out of the opioid crisis.

Frank asked Jim McClelland for a checkup, 10 months since he and the governor unveiled their opioid action plan.

McClelland says we still have a problem with doctors and drug makers.

Frank: “In May, we talked about reducing substance abuse, improving treatment. How far have we come on those two specific things?”

McClelland: “The sad fact is in Indiana, it has been far easier to get high than it has been to get help. And we are doing a lot to change that. It’s not happening fast enough.”

“Last year we took a number of steps, such as approving the opening up of five more opioid treatment programs around the state. We changed our Medicaid policy. So Medicaid can now, and HIP, can now pay for comprehensive treatment.”

Frank: “We have the state of Indiana suing makers of some of the opioids.”

McClelland: “There was some misleading marketing. And basically, the study concluded that using Oxycontin they had a low risk of addiction. Well as it turned out it was a very small study and a lot of the marketing hung on that.”

Frank: “This is still being overprescribed?”

McClelland: “There is still overprescribing.”

Frank: “So who’s missing the message here? Are doctors missing the message?”

McClelland: “In some cases.”

Frank: “How long do you think it’s going to take before we wrestle this bear and get it under control?”

McClelland: “It took 20 years to get to where we are today. How long is that going to be? I really don’t know.”

McClelland says he’s seen some flashes of improvement. In Scott County, he says overdose deaths dropped significantly. But he says there’s no clear statewide data to give us an overall picture.

His office is working on that now.

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