St. Louis, Missouri (STL.News) – There is a new effort in Missouri aimed at fighting the opioid crisis. During a news conference on Tuesday in downtown St. Louis, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt launched the “Real Opioid Pain” initiative, which asks Missourians who have been affected by opioids to share their story through the website, realopioidpain.com. Schmitt said these stories will be used to bolster the lawsuits filed by the state against a group of pharmaceutical companies back in 2017.
“Missouri is in the midst of one of the most severe health crises in modern history – opioid abuse, addiction, overdose, and deaths,” said Schmitt.
“Tragically, it is highly likely that each one of us knows someone who has been impacted by opioids. After all, the opioid epidemic knows no boundaries of geography, economics, race or creed.” Schmitt added.
Brenda Schnell, Executive Director of the Missouri Recovery Network, echoed those sentiments: “The opioid epidemic has gripped Missouri. Three Missourians lose their life each day as a result of drug overdose. Opioids are responsible for one in five deaths among young adults. Drug overdose deaths have increased by nearly 600% in many rural Missouri counties over the past two decades. These statistics are frightening. Through my work with the Missouri Recovery Network, I’ve seen first-hand how opioids have impacted individuals, families, and communities. I’m glad that the Attorney General is taking the initiative to hold those responsible, accountable.”
During the press conference, several people of all walks of life shared their stories. Chad Sabora is a former Chicago prosecutor and recovering addict. He now heads the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery.
“We have thousands of kids out there right now struggling with opioids. Many of them will die today if we don’t if we don’t act faster, if we don’t act quicker, if we don’t start reaching out to them. We can no longer wait for that arrest.” Sabora said.
Citing deceptive marketing practices, then Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley filed a lawsuit in 2017 against Endo Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and their parent company Johnson and Johnson, and Purdue Pharmaceuticals. That lawsuit is ongoing.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, 951 people died from an opioid overdose in 2017, accounting for one in every 65 deaths in Missouri.