Published on: November 29, 2017

Six states in the USA “have taken the unusual step of using their legal authority to declare their opioid overdose situation an emergency”. See the article Emergency Legal Authority and the Opioid Crisis by Lainie Rutkow in the New England Journal of Medicine, November 15, 2017.

This declaration gives the authority to state government to take the required steps to combat the emergency.

Let us hope that the steps taken will not be knee-jerk reactions and would see the other side of the coin too.

Opioid overdose deaths could well be the current major problem in the USA; but the world over there are two kinds of opioid crisis. And globally, the bigger crisis is the pain burden and serious health-related suffering caused by lack of access to opioids to treat pain.

Let us remember the principle of balance: we have a duty to contain the current problem of non-medical use of opioids; just as we have a duty to make opioids available for those who need them desperately. Like this man.

(Photo by Ruth Fremson)

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