San Diego is ground zero for a two-day opioid addiction summit designed to educate parents, doctors and the public on the country's "most aggressive epidemic." Health leaders from across the country are in town to discuss ways to curb the nation's growing epidemic of opioid use.
In San Diego alone, at least 37 San Diegans have died from fentanyl-related overdoses this year.
Health officials say that is an all-time record.
Great information on the crisis can be found at www.hope2gether.org.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ASSISTING
Acting U.S. Attorney General Alana Robinson teamed up with local and national health leaders to launch the summit. The kickoff was at a hotel in Pacific Beach where Robinson said, "A big issue is the amount of Fentanyl flowing into the country from Mexico. It's never been higher."
Experts say that while opioid-related deaths are preventable, the solution to the problem is not an easy one to overcome. Experts agree, it must begin with everyone coming together.
The two-day summit is designed to help parents understand the risks and the pull of Fentanyl on their children as well as feature training sessions for a medication that can help stop an overdose in its tracks.
One of the speakers is Dr. Karen Smith. Smith is the director of the California Department of Public Health.
She said while the state has seen a decline in drug-related deaths, there has been a steep increase in heroin and fentanyl-related deaths.
Smith told IVN, “As we restrict the availability, or educate physicians around safe use of opioids, people who are already addicted have access to relatively available, very inexpensive, very dangerous drugs like heroin and fentanyl."
Showing just how deep rooted the problem is in the country, it was announced just two weeks ago the billionaire owner of Insys Therapeutics was arrested and charged with leading a nationwide conspiracy to use bribes and fraud to cause the illegal distribution of a Fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients.
Dr. John N. Kapoor of Phoenix, Arizona, faces federal charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback law.
Kapoor faces 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors allege the company paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to doctors in exchange for prescribing a spray called Subsys that contained the powerful and addictive opioid.
Three top prescribers have already been convicted of taking bribes from Insys.