Democratic POTUS Candidate To Join SUNY Cortland Opioid Panel Via Telecast

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SUNY Cortland will host a panel discussion next week on the opioid crisis, which will be attended via telecast by one of the Democratic nominees for President of the United States in 2020.

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U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) will join SUNY Cortland Associate Psychology Professor Joshua Peck and several experts in the field next Wednesday (September 25) for a discussion on preventing opioid abuse.

The event, “Opioid Pill Prescribing, Addiction, Prevention and Treatment: Urgently Needed Reforms,” will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in Old Main Brown Auditorium on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

It’s free and open to the public, with parking available in the Miller Building lots on Graham Ave.

“In our local and national news we’re hard-pressed to go a week without the mention of the devastating impact that opioid abuse has taken on our communities,” Peck said. “Up to this point, the emphasis has been on litigating pharmaceutical companies and increasing funding for opioid treatment. However, when we look at successful outcomes concerning opioid abuse treatments, the data suggest that conventional treatment methods are largely ineffective. Thus, our panel will focus on novel preventative practices that can be combined, improved and expanded to protect patients from opioid pill abuse before it ever starts.”

Gabbard will join the panel via Skype from the campaign trail.

She has made addressing the opioid crisis a major part of her campaign platform, co-introducing the Opioid Crisis Accountability Act of 2019 in May with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), which would prohibit the illegal marketing and distribution of opioids and create criminal liability for top company executives.

“As we look at treatment options and support for those dealing with this addiction, it’s important that we actually focus on the root cause of the problem,” Gabbard said on the House floor in support of the legislation. “We have seen for decades how major pharmaceutical companies have misled the FDA, doctors, and patients about the safety and risks of opioid dependency on commonly prescribed prescription drugs in their efforts to sell more drugs.”

Also joining next Wednesday’s panel:

  • Vincent Benivegna, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon from East Lansing, Mich., who serves on the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Commission.
  • Tom Maher, regional director of the Healthcare Leadership Council, who has worked on that organization’s Inroads Against Addiction
  • Scott Noren, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon from Ithaca, N.Y., who will campaign for the 23rd Congressional District of N.Y. next year.

Opioid abuse has risen dramatically throughout Central New York. Onondaga County, just north of Cortland, had more opioid deaths in 2017 than any other county in New York, after seeing it’s numbers triple since 2014, according to the Onondaga County Health Department.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that roughly 21-29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain, while one in every four will misuse them.

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