Growing Prescription Drug Epidemic Addressed By New York Congressman Brian Higgins and the Advocacy Group “Save the Michaels of the World” (Part 1)
This is part one of a two part series about the Save The Michaels of the World Advocacy Group and their reform initiatives to raise awareness about the growing prescription drug epidemic, improve addiction training for health providers, create a national controlled substance registry and database, and allow for patient information to be freely shared among medical providers to present prescription drug abuse and doctor shopping.
SAVE THE MICHAELS OF THE WORLD ADVOCACY GROUP
ONE80CENTER has been raising the alarm about the growing prescription drug epidemic for several years. Our clinical staff was relieved to see a true reform effort being fostered by New York Congressman Brian Higgins and the Advocacy Group founded in Buffalo, Save the Michaels of the World. Together, they are endorsing national efforts to fight the prescription drug epidemic and making a strong call for action.
Congressman Higgins and the Advocacy Group refreshingly focus on the solution and not just the problem in relation to the growing prescription drug epidemic. Congressman Higgins explained: “The data is strong but when the families tell their stories the need to address the growing prescription drug problem becomes even more compelling. The technology is available to make sure doctors and pharmacists have better and complete information on which prescriptions patients are receiving. We will be working closely and aggressively with the families to help fight for widespread electronic medical record implementation that provides real time information to help prevent addiction and abuse of prescription drugs.”
In a meeting arranged by Congressman Higgins, families involved with the Save the Michaels of the World group sat with officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to discuss the federal government’s efforts in attacking the prescription drug epidemic. The forum provided an opportunity to determine ways that HHS can work with Save the Michaels of the World to achieve common goals.
Michael Israel’s story is heartbreaking and becoming more and more common the prescription drug epidemic spirals out of control across the country. Suffering from Crohn’s Disease, a condition that was diagnosed when he was just a child, Michael experienced serious difficulties when he transitioned to the adult health care system. Several attending physicians and medical specialists prescribed him numerous controlled substances. Due to a lack of training in addiction medicine and an absence of coordinated care, Michael was overprescribed a multitude of dangerous prescription drugs.
Cost of the Prescription Drug Epidemic
Unfortunately, this story is happening all over the country due to a lack of an accessible national database for doctors, pharmacists, and other health care providers. With no timely communication among the health care professionals treating him, Michael became addicted to prescription painkillers. Losing hope of ever recovering his health or overcoming his addiction to the painkillers, Michael took his own life when he was only twenty years old. His death was preventable if there has been proper communication between his health providers.
In Washington, Avi Israel, the father of Michael Israel, said: “We are extremely thankful to Congressman Higgins for assembling key folks handling federal prescription drug policy, and providing us the opportunity to deliver our stories on a national level. There were certainly tears in the room and we think it is a critical eye-opener that ties the human urgency to the legislative process.”
ONE80CENTER supports the initiatives taken by the Save the Michaels of the World advocacy group. In part 2, we will go into detail about the specific laws and measures they have introduced to the New York State Legislature with State Senator Tim Kennedy. Until the, here is a link to the Save The Michaels of the World Facebook Group that goes under the same name as the Advocacy Group.