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Broome County Project to Educate Doctors on Opioid Abuse

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day 44 people in the United States die as a result of prescription opioid overdose. In addition, 45 percent of people who use heroin were also addicted to opioid painkillers.

On Monday, Broome County announced a new program that involves working with medical providers to stop opioid addiction before it starts.

The Opioid Prescription Reduction by Academic Detailing, or OPRAD project, is expected to begin in the county in April. Officials say it is designed to increase awareness of the best opioid prescribing practices to area medical providers.

An OPRAD contractor, funded by a $35,000 grant from the Community Foundation of South Central New York, will educate 98 local providers. Sites will include primary, urgent care and dental practices. The contractor will visit these locations at least three times within the contract period. The county legislature will determine the contractor in March.

Broome County Executive Debbie Preston said the program is about taking on addiction from a different angle.

“We need to fight this problem from the very beginning, where it’s starting," said Preston, "We need to work harder to make sure that people do not get addicted to opioids in the first place. And we need to do it now.”

County officials said there were no known cases of overprescribing in our area. They said the OPRAD program is intended to keep this in check. The Broome County Health Department will use electronic medical record surveillance to observe opioid prescribing behavior.

"They’re useful medicines, they have a role in clinical practices," said Broome County Medical Director Dr. Christopher Ryan, "But I think over the past several years this role has been expanded, largely through their aggressive marketing by manufacturers."

On Monday, New York State also announced a new series of webinars to educate those who prescribe medication about responsible dispensing of opioids. These webinars are free to providers. Providers can visit the website of the Medical Society of the State of New York for more information.