County executive, Speaker of the House to host opioid roundtable discussion

January 22, 2018

County and state legislators are joining together Tuesday for a roundtable discussion on the county’s response to opioid deaths and overdoses.

The event is hosted by County Executive Steve Schuh and Speaker of the House Michael Busch. Other participants include Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Pasadena; Delegate Eric Bromwell, D-Baltimore County; county police chief Timothy Altomare and county attorney Nancy Duden.

“There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to curb the effects of the epidemic we’re facing – we need to work together and ensure policies we put in place make sense on the local and state level,” Busch said.

Opioid overdose deaths hit record numbers the last two years in the county. There were 155 overdose deaths in 2017 with officials expecting that number to increase after hospital reports are finalized. The number is linked to just police-involved overdose deaths. Schuh and Altomare both spoke to the issue at Friday’s county delegation meeting. The two believe the county is improving since deaths and overdoses are increasing at a slower rate despite the record breaking numbers.

"The opioid crisis is public enemy number one in Anne Arundel County,” Schuh said.

Topics at Tuesday’s meeting will include the county’s previous response to the opioid crisis as well as future plans. Busch and Kipke plan to press for additional opioid-focused legislation this year. Kipke has said he will resurrect a bill that would allow parents to involuntary commit their adult children to rehab services if they have surfaced an overdose and are still on the parent’s insurance.

Most recently the county has put aside a pool of money to help people transition into addiction treatment. The county Mental Health Agency received $43,000 to fill in payments gaps while officials work with insurance companies for service payments.

The county has filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and prescribers, claiming they have contributed to the crisis. Those listed in the lawsuit include Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, Endo Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Percocet, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Insys Therapeutics, the manufacturer of Subsys, a sublingual spray of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which officials say is magnitudes more potent than morphine and heroin.

The 2 p.m. meeting will be in the Lowe House Office Building in the Baltimore City Delegation Room. The house office building is on 6 Bladen Street.

Phil Davis contributed to this report.

This story was updated to correct information. There were 155 overdose deaths in 2017.