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article imageAG unveils data analytics platform to combat opioid crisis

By Karen Graham     Aug 2, 2017 in Health
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today the agency is going to be using a data analytics platform to target pharmacists and doctors involved in the illegal opioid trade.
The AG's announcement is a follow-up to the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis interim report that was released Monday.
Referring to the federal commission's report, Session addressed a group of law enforcement officers, and their families in hard-hit Ohio, where eight people a day are dying from opioid overdoses. In May, Sessions instructed federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against most drug suspects as a deterrent.
Sessions cited two instances in Ohio, including one doctor in New Albany who forfeited $29 million of drug profit to authorities, according to KATV, although there was no mention of when the forfeiture of illegal drug profits took place.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was one of the first senior Republican politicians to endorse Donald ...
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was one of the first senior Republican politicians to endorse Donald Trump before last November's election and was rewarded by being appointed America's top law enforcement officer
WIN MCNAMEE, GETTY/AFP/File
Data analytics can be used in a number of sectors, including law enforcement and health. However, data sets are becoming increasingly large and this brings with it new challenges for the analysis, capture, data curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy. Quite often, analysis involves bringing in technology specialists.
In December 2016, Digital Journal reported on how data analytics was being used by the CDC to look for health patterns. In one breakthrough, reported by Datanami, the health agency has shown a pattern with opioid misuse, HIV and needle sharing in particular areas of the U.S.
According to Fox News, the recommendations by the WH commission, headed up by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, along with the Session speech today, coincide by with a survey published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, estimating that 92 million Americans used opioid drugs in 2015. That is roughly 1-in-3 Americans.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was appointed by President Trump earlier this year to head up a f...
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was appointed by President Trump earlier this year to head up a federal Drug Task Force, but little has been done.
Gage Skidmore
Commission recommendations on opioid crisis
Besides asking the President to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, the commission says it is also "critical that the Federal Government provide sufficient resources to prevent and combat this disease; it must also provide the easiest pathway for private providers and local and state governments to achieve success."
The report asks for the development of a national prevention strategy using “big data analytics” to devise targeted prevention messages that employ cutting-edge methods of marketing and communications, as well as a reduction in the supplies of heroin, fentanyl analogs and counterfeit pills through coordinated federal and state law enforcement initiatives.
The report also suggests the president and Health and Human Services Secretary could grant Medicaid waivers to states to expand funding for inpatient drug treatment. With emergency powers, the commission says the HHS secretary could negotiate lower prices for naloxone, a drug that reverses overdoses, making it more readily available.
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Andrea Woo/Twitter
Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an addiction specialist with Brandeis University, applauds the commission's recommendations, saying, "This is a public health emergency," and noting that since 1999, more than 300,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses.
Basically, the commission's interim report wants the federal government to do more on the opioid crisis and to significantly expand funding through Medicare, Medicaid and other federal agencies. The president and his HHS secretary has remained silent on the issue.
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