The doctor said there has been a shift in the types of drugs people are using here. In the past, heroin and prescribed opioids were the major problems. Now the issue is fentanyl.
The federal government has debated how buprenorphine should be prescribed and who should be doing the prescribing. The law now requires a waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration before a doctor can prescribe the drug, causing delays. Turner said Tuesday that his bill, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, has bipartisan support and was passed by the House in June.
“We are hoping that the Senate will see the importance of this, pass it and get it to the president’s desk and then hopefully we can get back to more widely available,” Turner said.
More than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States last year and Turner said because of the waiver requirement, only about 40% of counties in the United States have a physician licensed to prescribe buprenorphine.
Accidental drug overdose deaths were much higher back in 2017, with 104 in Clark County, according to the coroner’s office. The number dropped to 65 in 2018 and bottomed out at 52 in 2019. After virtually no change in 2020 (53 deaths), the number jumped again to 70 last year.
Local doctors getting involved and calling for change helps him and other representatives advocate for the passage of the new law, Turner said.
“As we look to OneFifteen, we’ll continue to listen to where they see that there are changes that can be made, rules that can be made, new legislation and of course resources that can be brought to bear to try to assist the community in rising to this occasion,” he said.