By Bishop Douglas Miles
The opioids addiction epidemic sweeping this country is staggering. It’s a travesty, and it doesn’t discriminate. It affects us all. The number of opioid deaths in 2016 reached over 2,000 in Maryland alone, double the number from 2015. Earlier this month, Gov. Hogan declared a state of emergency to try to stem this debilitating problem.
A big part of dealing with this overwhelming issue is to support and encourage people addicted to opioids to seek professional medical help on their path to recovery. Even with Gov. Hogan’s recent commitment of an additional $10 million dollars, federal cuts to the Affordable Care Act could reduce by $200 million the aid available to Marylanders seeking medical help.
I respectfully urge the governor to speak directly and forcefully to the White House and Republican leadership in Congress to not cut this essential funding.
Real progress has been made in medications available to help people overcome their withdrawal symptoms as they participate in recovery, but the cost can be prohibitive. Among those medications is Suboxone.
Unfortunately the British pharmaceutical company, Reckitt Benckiser, has chosen to make their product prohibitively high in cost. In fact the price has increased 700% since it was introduced on the market. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh is leading the fight to make available to those in need affordable medications. He is to be commended for joining with 41 other attorneys general from both parties to sue Reckitt Benckiser for anti-trust violations.
The difficult steps to recovery should not be blocked by unfair corporate schemes designed to make recovery more expensive. Real families and the lives of real people are at stake. The Maryland Medicaid administration has made a smart move to replace Suboxone on the state’s preferred drug list with Zubsolv, a less controversial, harder-to-misuse tablet treatment
I’m taking this time to shine a bright light on this problem and to recognize the leaders who understand the pain and suffering that our communities go through each and every day.
This in not a moment for profiteering, this is a moment for healing.. Instead I ask all comminities to come together and support Attorney General Frosh and the 41 other attorneys general to help solve this problem that threatens us all.
Bishop Douglas I. Miles is pastor of Koinonia Baptist Church in Baltimore.