The Utah Opioid Task Force held its quarterly meeting on June 1, hearing reports on past actions as well as plans for future events and ideas in the ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic. Co-Chairs Attorney General Sean Reyes and DEA District Agent Brian Besser led the meeting, joined by Speaker Greg Hughes, USDA State Director for Rural Development Randy Parker, and representatives from Co-Chair Senator Mike Lee’s office.
AG Reyes opened with an update on the recently filed lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. Filed in Carbon County, the lawsuit also leaves room to add other plaintiffs later, if needed.
District Agent in Charge Brian Besser provided an update on Utah Take Back program, which encourages Utahns to turn in unused prescription drugs to avoid them falling into the wrong hands. Currently, federal regulations only allow Take Back boxes in law enforcement offices. However, there is an effort to allow collection boxes in pharmacies to provide more opportunities for people to get rid of their drugs instead of burning or trashing them. This effort is particularly important for rural areas, which have been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic.
Randy Parker, State Director for Rural Development USDA, informed the Task Force about the work of the Rural Opioid Task Force and the involvement of the USDA. Last year, the USDA invested nearly $500 million in the rural community and is actively involved in making our rural communities better. The “Farm Town Strong Road Show” is a USDA mechanism to assist local farm bureaus in engaging rural people in open and honest discussions regarding opioid abuse. Currently, the Director Randy Parker and Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney, the Chairs of the Rural Outreach Subcommittee, are working with county commissioners to get these road shows set up throughout the state.
Upcoming meetings will also focus on legislation as legislators, lawyers, and medical professionals look at ways of implanting safeguards to help protect Utah citizens. Representative Steve Eliason (R-Sandy) will be sponsoring a number of bills regarding opioids.
A major effort of the Task Force is the upcoming summit on opioids. The “Live Connected: Opioid Solutions Summit” is scheduled for October 12 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena. If you are interested in supporting the summit or being involved, please email Dan Burton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Utah Opioid Task Force works in collaboration with groups nationally and across the state to address the effects of opioid addiction. The Utah Opioid Task Force includes leaders from government, law enforcement, and the medical and recovery community, as well as other concerned and interested individuals from across the State.