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Can President Obama's Ideas on Heroin Epidemic Help The Southern Tier?

Last month, President Barack Obama visited West Virginia to push his new policy ideas in an effort to combat the growing national heroin epidemic.

We spoke with a local soldier in the fight against heroin about what the President is trying to do.


On October 21st in Charleston, West Virginia, President Barack Obama said, "More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do from motor vehicle crashes.

Between 2002 and 2013, the number of heroin-related deaths in America nearly quadrupled.

It touches everybody from celebrities, to college students, to soccer moms, to inner-city kids. White, black, Hispanic, young, old, rich, poor."

Obama showed the crowd that he is aware of the growing heroin epidemic. The President was pushing plans to counter it including doubling the number of doctors who can prescribe Buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opiate addiction.

He says more than 40 medical provider groups have committed to training more than half a million doctors, dentists and others on the safe prescription of opiate medications.

Is this the right step for Obama to take in his efforts to counter the growth of the epidemic?

Alexis Pleus, Truth Pharm says, "As far as what he's proposed, I think he's doing the best he can without using additional budget or funds. So the measures that he's trying to put in place will certainly help. But it's not the solve all for the problem."

The question some might ask is whether a guy who lives in Washing ton could truly understand the heroin epidemic in our region?

Pleus responds, "The epidemic that we have here is really no different than across the country. The death rate has exceeded at a slightly faster pace in the last few years which is a little alarming for the Southern Tier compared to the nationwide average."

What else can the president add to legislation to halt heroin?

"Insurance companies need to stop controlling how much treatment a person receives. So, we know that three to six months treatment is what is successful for treating opioid addiction. And, that is not what people are being provided. Most insurance companies are paying for 10 to 28 days of treatment at best. We have limits set on how many people a doctor can treat with medically assisted treatment. Yet, we don't have any limits on how many opioids a doctor can prescribe. So we know what's causing this epidemic, without a doubt, we know that the opioids are causing the heroin addiction. We're not limiting how many prescriptions a doctor can give out of opioids," says Pleus.

We're told that the Obama Administration’s drug policy have been developed around the idea that it is best to move people with drug problems away from our criminal justice system and toward treatment.