Gov. John Bel Edwards invited to White House ‘listening session’ on opioid crisis

BATON ROUGE, LA - AUGUST 19: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a press conference to update the public on FEMA's disaster recover and temporary housing programs on August 19, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Last week Louisiana was overwhelmed with flood water causing at least thirteen deaths and thousands of damaged homes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Gov. John Bel Edwards and Dr. Rebekah Gee, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, are headed to Washington.

President Donald Trump has invited the governor and the health secretary to attend a listening session Thursday (October 26) on the nation’s opioid crisis.

Also participating in the event are Governors Bill Walker (I-Alaska), Chris Christie (R-N.J.), Chris Sununu (R-N.H.), Matt Bevin (Ky.), and Paul LePage (R-Maine).

The governors will be joined by three Attorneys General and eight state public health directors.

Edwards will also meet privately with Acting Drug Czar Richard Baum at the White House.

“The opioid epidemic is sweeping the country, and opioid-related deaths in Louisiana are on the rise,” said Gov. Edwards. “We’re doing our part in Louisiana, and I appreciate President Trump highlighting this important issue.  Dr. Gee and I are looking forward to discussing Louisiana’s efforts to combat this crisis and to learn best practices from other states.”

The governor’s office offered the following statistics on opioid abuse in Louisiana:

  • Louisiana is one of 20 states with a significant increase in opioid deaths. (CDC)
  • Louisiana had a 12 percent increase in deaths resulting from opioid overdose for 2014-2015.  (CDC)
  • Louisiana had 478 (17 per 100,000) fatal drug overdoses in 2014.(LDH)
  • Data from 2013-2015 indicates there were 6,252 opioid-related substance abuse treatment admissions in Louisiana. (LDH)
  • Since the Prescription Monitoring Program began monitoring narcotic prescribing behavior, Louisiana has averaged 110 prescriptions per 100 people. Meaning, we have more prescriptions for narcotics than we have residents. (LDH)