Gov. Whitmer creates task force to tackle Michigan's opioid epidemic

click to enlarge Gov. Whitmer creates task force to tackle Michigan's opioid epidemic

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday forming a task group to tackle Michigan’s growing opioid epidemic.

The Opioids Task Force panel, created as an advisory body within the Department of Health and Human Services, will be led by the state’s chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.

The advisory group will be responsible for researching and implementing response actions to the worsening opioid epidemic in Michigan, where there were 2,665 opioid-related deaths in 2018 — a 31.3 percent increase from the year before.

In the executive order, Whitmer points out Michigan is among the top states with the highest levels of both opioid prescriptions and opioid overdose deaths.

"Combating an epidemic of this size and impact requires a coordinated and comprehensive approach: one that ... raises public awareness of the epidemic, its causes and effects, the resources available to those afflicted by it, and the actions that can be taken to combat it," Whitmer said in the order.

"The health and well-being of this state and its residents would benefit from a task force devoted to developing and implementing such statewide response actions, and to bringing this crisis under full and lasting control," she added.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a statement in support of the governor's decision to create the task force.

"The opioids epidemic has far-reaching implications on Michiganders, our communities, and our economy. I applaud Gov. Whitmer for taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to combating this epidemic by creating a task force that gets at the root of this systemic public health crisis," she said. “Michigan wins when we all work together to tackle challenges and my office stands ready to support the Governor’s efforts and play an active role in this task force.”

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