Lowell Sun

L’Italien calls for safe injection sites, treatment funding in opioid plan
By Chris Lisinski, clisinski@lowellsun.com
Updated: 06/22/2018 08:40:54 AM EDT

ANDOVER — State Sen. Barbara L’Italien, a candidate in the 3rd Congressional District race, released a plan to combat the opioid epidemic that her campaign described as “audacious.”

L’Italien’s plan, an extensive, 5,000-word document posted to her website Monday, contains sections she says will help stop opioid addiction from spreading while also supporting treatment of those struggling most and implementing consequences on pharmaceutical companies who have contributed to the crisis.
Noting that she personally knows four people who have died from overdoses, L’Italien said Americans are “all going to too many funerals.”

“We’re getting plenty of lip service from Trump and congressional Republicans about how we must take action, but they’re actively undermining our health care at the same time,” L’Italien said in a press release announcing her plan.

L’Italien’s plan is broken down into four main sections: preventing addiction, protecting against overdose, ensuring access to treatment and holding big Pharma accountable. On several occasions, she cites work she did in the state legislature on the topic of opioids.

The first portion calls for additional federal funding toward education programs that promote education programs to warn doctors about the risks of overprescribing pain medication as well as public messaging campaigns.

L’Italien also called for greater support of public health research regarding pain and addiction.
Her plan’s second section calls for more funding for testing of fentanyl and other harmful substances. A handful of her suggestions are less widely popular, particularly support for clean needle exchanges and supervised injection facilities. L’Italien said those strategies would create a safer environment for those already struggling with addiction and lower their risk of disease or death until they can get into treatment.
The state senator also said solutions to the crisis should ensure those grappling with addiction have access to treatment. L’Italien used the topic to advocate for a single-payer health care system, saying it would give every American the support needed, but also called for existing insurers to improve their coverage for overdose-reversing naloxone and medication-assisted therapies.

The final section of L’Italien’s plan focuses on the pharmaceutical industry, which she called responsible for the spread of addiction. She would encourage the federal Department of Justice to sue the industry in the same way it did tobacco manufacturers.