WV DHHR creating new plan to fight opioid overdose epidemic

Published: Nov. 30, 2017 at 1:53 PM EST
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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources says it's developing a new plan to fight the opioid overdose epidemic, to be revealed in January, 2018.

The DHHR says it will develop an opioid response plan through public engagement and a partnership with regional and national experts to combat the opioid epidemic.

The plan will be delivered to Governor Jim Justice and the West Virginia Legislature by mid-January 2018.

In 2017, Gov. Justice signed into law House Bill 2620, creating the Office of Drug Control Policy, under the DHHR.

The Office of Drug Control Policy is tasked with developing the opioid response plan and recommendations to address the state's opioid overdose death crisis.

Last year, 884 West Virginians died from drug overdoses, resulting in the highest overdose death rate per capita in the nation. Seven out of ten people who died of overdoses in 2016 had a prescription for opioids filled within a year of their death, and two in five overdose victims had a prescription filled within the 30 days prior to their death.

The DHHR’s Office of Drug Control Policy will coordinate with a panel of public health experts from West Virginia University, Marshall University and Johns Hopkins University, including the following people:

Dr. Sean Allen, Assistant Scientist in the Department of Health, Behavior, and Society at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Allen has advanced training in geospatial and longitudinal data analyses. He formerly served as a senior policy advisor in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Dr. Jeffrey Coben, Dean of the West Virginia University School of Public Health and Associate Vice President of Health Affairs. He has achieved international recognition for his accomplishments in the field of injury prevention and control.

Dr. Shannon Frattaroli, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins University. She is one of the lead authors of America’s Opioid Epidemic: From Evidence to Impact, a report released by Johns Hopkins University and the Clinton Foundation.

Jim Johnson, Director of the DHHR’s Office of Drug Control Policy. He has 29 years of law enforcement experience and has served as both a police chief and director of the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy in Huntington.

Dr. Sean Loudin, Associate Professor at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. He specializes in neonatal-perinatal medicine with research and clinical interests that have focused on neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Participation of the Johns Hopkins University faculty is made possible with support from the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.

There will be multiple opportunities for public participation, including a fifteen-day public comment period, beginning today, for persons who want to share ideas or recommendations for addressing the opioid crisis in West Virginia at

A public meeting will be held following the conclusion of the public comment period to include treatment providers, first responders, social service providers, law enforcement, regulatory agencies, public health experts and others.

A release of the draft plan for public comment is expected the first week of January 2018.