July 17, 2017

Missourians are dying every day from opioid overdoses

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — The opioid crisis in Missouri has reached epidemic proportions. In 2016, there were 908 opioid- or heroin-related deaths in the state; this is 35% increase over 2015. 2.5 people overdosed and died every day last year, compared with 1.8 the year before. One out of every 66 deaths in the state was due to opioid or opiate abuse in 2016—a significant increase from 2015 when one out of every 89 deaths were opioid-related.

St. Louis County is one of the hardest-hit parts of the state. In 2016, 237 overdoses were attributed to heroin, prescription drug abuse or synthesized opioids such as fentanyl. In 2015, that number was ¬¬¬141, indicating a 68% increase. In the City of St. Louis, there were 182 such overdoses in 2016 compared to 93 the year before—a 96% increase.

“We are incredibly appreciative that Governor Greitens has signed an executive order today instructing us to institute a prescription drug monitoring program,” said Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services director Randall Williams, MD. “The department will be entering into agreements with private companies to perform sophisticated analyses of the prescribing and dispensing data they hold. We think this is a better iteration of present models which can impose burdens on those who are doing what they’re supposed to do, and allows us to focus on those who are perpetuating the crisis.

“Governor Greitens has charged his cabinet with taking a coordinated, integrated and innovative approach to helping all those families and individuals affected by the opioids crisis,” he continued. “We have traveled throughout the state and listened to the many ways this has affected Missourians; it is our goal to help people not face this challenge alone.”

This collaborative initiative is being launched with a series of nine Opioid Summits around the state, designed to bring awareness to the issue, spur innovative action and address the specific problems found in different communities throughout Missouri.

The kick-off summit is being held in Springfield on July 20. Led by Dr. Williams, this summit will be an opportunity for leaders from a variety of sectors—first responders, health care, the faith community, nonprofits and government—to discuss the opioid crisis and the best interventions moving forward, while taking in feedback from the community members most affected by the crisis.

The Missouri Opioid Crisis Summit: Springfield Kickoff will be held on July 20 at the White River Conference Center located at 600 West Sunshine Street, Springfield. This event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30a.m. This event is free but does require registration, as space for this event will be limited.

The link for ticket registration can be found here. Additionally, this event will be livestreamed on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HealthyLivingMo/. Please use the hashtags #SGFopioidcrisis and #MOopioidsummit to join the conversation.

Confirmed city and locations for additional Opioid Summits:

  • July 20, 2017: Springfield, White River Conference Center, 600 W Sunshine St, Springfield, MO 65807
  • September 6: Poplar Bluff, Mount Calvary Powerhouse Church, 1875 Speedway Dr, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901
  • September 12: Cape Girardeau, Show Me Center, 1333 N Sprigg St, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
  • October 17: Joplin, Missouri Southern State University, 3950 Newman Rd, Joplin, MO 64801
  • November 7: Kirksville, Truman State University, 100 E Normal St, Kirksville, MO 63501
  • November 14: St. Joseph, Mo Western University, Fulkerson Center (Kempker Room), 4525 Downs Drive, St. Joseph, MO 64507
  • November 29: Columbia, Courtyard by Marriot, 3301 Lemone Industrial Blvd. Columbia, MO 65201
  • St. Louis and Kansas City dates and locations to be determined.