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Gov. Rick Snyder forms task force to address prescription drug and opioid problems in Michigan

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley leading effort to develop statewide strategy

June 18, 2015

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced the creation of a task force focused on addressing the growing prescription drug and opioid problem in Michigan, chaired by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.  

“Prescription drug and opioid addiction has quadrupled the number of unintentional drug deaths in our state since 1999 and we must come together to reverse this trend before more Michiganders are hurt,” Calley said.

Opioids are powerful pain killers that are highly addictive. Opioid dependence affects millions of people in the United States and prescribed opioids can lead to the use of highly addictive and dangerous illegal substances, especially heroin.

The Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force is a result of the call for a comprehensive plan to address prescription drug and opioid abuse in Gov. Snyder’s 2015 State of the State address. The bipartisan task force will examine the recent trends, evaluate strategic options, and develop a statewide action plan by fall 2015. The Fiscal Year 2016 budget includes $1.5 million to address statewide concerns on this issue.

Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon also will have leadership roles. The remainder of the task force will include other stakeholders from state government as well as medical, law enforcement and court officials.

“The damaging effects of drugs like opioids are hurting our families and communities,” Schuette said. “We must work together to help end this growing epidemic before it hurts public safety and our economic recovery.”

The members include:

  • Lt. Gov. Brian Calley;
  • Attorney General Bill Schuette;
  • Nick Lyon, director of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Mike Zimmer, director of the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs;
  • Kriste Etue, director of the Michigan State Police;
  • State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich;
  • State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker;
  • State Rep. Anthony Forlini;
  • State Rep. Andy Schor;
  • Victor Fitz, Cass County Prosecutor;
  • Judge Linda Davis, District Court judge, Macomb County and president of Families Against Narcotics;
  • Chief James Craig, Detroit Police Department;
  • Sheriff Mike Lovelace, Marquette County;
  • Spencer Johnson, president of Michigan Health and Hospital Association;
  • Justice Conrad Mallett, chief administrative officer of Detroit Medical Center and former Michigan Supreme Court justice and Chief Justice;
  • Laurie Wesolowicz, director of pharmacy services clinical, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan;
  • Steve Bell, Michigan Osteopathic Association;
  • R. Corey Waller, Spectrum Health;
  • Larry Wagenknecht, CEO of Michigan Pharmacists Association;
  • Bob Lathers, CEO of Ionia County Community Mental Health;
  • Matt Clay, director of Health Services at Pokagon Band of Potawatomi.

The state began efforts to address this problem in 2014 with the signing of legislation, sponsored by Rep. Forlini, requiring EMS responders to be trained to administer antidotes for opioids that can save lives in the case of an overdose.