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Officials looking for ways to help opiate addicts, fight heroin epidemic

Officials looking for ways to help opiate addicts, fight heroin epidemic (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The Secretary of Health and Human Services visited a company that makes Vivitrol to discuss the heroin epidemic and ways to combat it.

Secretary Tom Price held a town hall at Alkermes in Wilmington where he received a standing ovation. Alkermes manufactures Vivitrol, a drug that is given as an injection which blocks heroin receptors in the brain. Secretary Price told the audience that helping addicts is the moral thing to do.

"They are our fellow men and women and we need to embrace that and lift them up and assist them," said Secretary Price.

The best way to help addicts has been the subject of much debate. Overdoses and deaths seem to only increase year-to-year, but there's a consensus among some law enforcement and health professionals.

"This opioid problem is huge and it's not something that we in law enforcement can arrest our way out of," said Ben Glassman, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

Glassman said he's been meeting with hospitals in Columbus and plans to meet with staff at hospitals in Cincinnati and Dayton to see how they try to help addicts.

"It's not just overprescribing. That's an important component," Glassman said. "But it's also to figure out what are the best ways to treat people who are addicted. People who come to the hospital because they have overdosed or people who come to the hospital because they have overdosed or people who come to the hospital with an addiction."

Glassman hopes to share that information with other hospitals. Meanwhile, Tom Price said he hopes President Trump's task force on the opioid crisis can come up with ideas to save lives.

"We can show a path that we think can help greatly in turning that curve down. We can't continue to have that curve go up. That's unacceptable," Secretary Price said.

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