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WVU providing multi-pronged approach solving the opioid crisis

Drs. Marsh, Berry and Coben

Drs. Marsh, Berry and Coben

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President Donald Trump was briefed today about the opioid crisis in the U.S., after last week receiving a report from the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis calling opioid addiction a “state of emergency.” West Virginia University experts say that opioid addiction is a problem both medical and social, and the University has a multi-pronged approach to helping addicts and their families deal with their struggle. In November 2015, the WVU Health Sciences Vice President Clay Marsh convened the Substance Abuse Task Force to facilitate cross-disciplinary efforts and to develop and sustain approaches to clinical care, education, training, research, outreach and data collection.

Dr. Clay Marsh
Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences

"It's becoming clear that the opioid epidemic and the chronic health problems we encounter in West Virginia and beyond are symptoms of a deeper problem. We need to address the root issues that drive the epidemic: a breakdown in communities' and families' ability to establish the connections to others that provide love and safety, purpose, and a mindset of abundance and gratitude. The answer to addiction and chronic health problems may be found among our best friends and colleagues, our families, our communities and our struggles."  

Dr. James H. Berry
Medical Director, Chestnut Ridge Center 
Medical Director, Acute Dual Diagnosis Program  
Associate Professor

“Currently, our state is woefully unequipped from a treatment workforce standpoint to meet the ever-increasing need for skilled providers. As such, WVU has made it a priority to train primary care providers in the effective use of medication assisted therapies. Besides training clinicians on site in Morgantown, we are providing ongoing mentorship to physicians and therapists throughout the state via regularly scheduled tele-mentoring sessions.”

Media inquiries for Dr. Marsh and Dr. Berry may be made through:
Bill Case
Director, Health Science Communications
304.293.8045 or 304.276.8045; 

Dr. Jeffrey Coben
Dean of the WVU School of Public Health
Associate Vice President for Health Affairs

“We have integrated the CDC’s opioid-prescribing guidelines into our School of Medicine and inter-professional education programs across WVU Health Sciences. Our School of Pharmacy is managing the Medicaid Rational Drug Therapy program, with a strong emphasis on opioid prescribing to assist practitioners and ensure safe, cost-effective drug therapy for patients. WVU also is home to a new pain management clinic focused on alternative therapies and a new Addiction Fellowship program that trains care givers. In addition, the School of Public Health and WVU’s CDC-sponsored Injury Control Research Center are collaborating with state agencies and federal partners on a variety of initiatives, including a prescription drug monitoring program, enhanced surveillance project, and a wide-reaching intranasal naloxone distribution and training effort in which 8,000 life-saving kits have been provided to groups across the state.” 

Media inquiries for Dr. Coben may be made through: Kimberly Becker, Director of Marketing and Communications, WVU School of Public Health, 304.293.1699 or 304.680.7300;

Sally Hodder                                                                                                                                                    Associate Vice President for Clinical and Translational Science                                                           Director, WVCTSI 

“The opioid epidemic is one of the largest healthcare challenges our state has ever faced. Primary care practices are on the front lines combating this epidemic as well as the resulting emerging epidemics such as hepatitis C. It is of the utmost importance to the future of West Virginia that we prioritize research to provide solutions to this problem.”

Media inquiries for Dr. Hodder may be made through: Ian Moore, Communications Coordinator, West Virginia Clinical & Translational Science Institute, 304.581.1781;

Patrick McGinley                                                                                                                                                 Charles Haden II Professor of Law                                                                                                                   WVU College of Law

"The opioids crisis affects thousands across the United States in every town city and rural area. Overdose deaths from prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999. More than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids since then. More than 15,000 died in 2015 alone, and the numbers are increasing. These numbers dwarf the American fatalities from all wars from Vietnam to the present. Real leadership, not business as usual politics is needed to resolve this catastrophic situation."

Contact information: patrick.mcginley@mail.wvu.edu304.293.6823

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise, or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVU Today.