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Walden holds Bend roundtable on opioid epidemic


Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., held a roundtable Tuesday morning in Bend with law enforcement and medical professionals to discuss the opioid abuse crisis and ways to tackle the problem.

Doctors from Mosaic Medical expressed an interest in expanding prescription drug “take-back” programs across the state, drawing nods of agreement from Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson and Bend Police Chief Jim Porter.

Another concern expressed at the session was the rising price of Narcan (naloxone), the antidote for drug overdoses used by law enforcement and others. Those placing orders for small clinics said they are paying almost double their previous prices.

Porter offered up some better news: Since the department and sheriff’s office equipped officers with Narcan and drug-testing equipment in June of 2016, officers have saved 22 people from overdoses.

Meanwhile, health officials said more funding is needed for local clean-needle exchange programs and effective outreach for them.

Walden has sponsored or led the effort to pass dozens of bills related to opioid abuse and treatment in recent months on Capitol Hill.

Walden said he’s working with senators now to get the bundle of bills passed and on to the president’s desk.

“We’re now focused on those who made the drugs,” he said. “Did they know they were addictive? How did they market them? So we’re delving very deeply into that effort.”

Do you think drug companies are to blame for the opioid epidemic? That’s the topic of our latest KTVZ.COM Poll, which you can find halfway down the right side of our home page.

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