Peters Holds Roundtable Discussion on Opioid Epidemic at Gerrish Township Fire Department

GERRISH TOWNSHIP, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters today toured the Gerrish Township Fire Department and held a roundtable discussion on the ongoing opioid crisis with local first responders, health care providers and community partners. While there, Peters discussed the Opioid Crisis Response Act, bipartisan legislation that includes provisions based off Peters’ YOUTH Act to expand access to opioid addiction treatment for adolescents and young adults. Roscommon County has been hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis. In a recent survey, the county ranked 25th in the nation for most opioid prescriptions filled. More opioids have been dispensed in Roscommon County than anywhere else in Michigan, enough for 443 pills per person.


“The opioid epidemic has ravaged communities across Michigan, taking the lives of loved ones and destroying the future of too many of our youth,” said Senator Peters. “Almost everyone in the state of Michigan knows someone who has been affected by this crisis, and I appreciate the hard work of the first responders, police and health care providers who are the frontline defense in this fight. I will continue working to ensure our communities have the resources and tools they need to save lives and protect Michiganders from the harmful impact of opioids.”


“The opioid crisis has devastated our community and endangered our staff,” said Brandon Rodgers, Gerrish Township Fire/EMS Department 2nd Lieutenant. “We appreciated hosting Senator Peters for a discussion on what can be done to fight the opioid epidemic and showing him some of the work our first responders are doing to protect our staff and community while aiding those in need our help.”


“We appreciate the opportunity to convene a group of healthcare providers, law enforcement officials, educational institutions and others to discuss the rising abuse of opioids in our communities with U.S. Senator Gary Peters", said Stephanie J. Riemer, President, Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital.  “We appreciate Senator Peters and his work at the federal level to provide the resources necessary to address this important issue.” 


The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 will improve the efforts of federal agencies to help respond to the opioid epidemic, including its effect on children, families, and communities. The legislation, which was recently approved by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, includes provisions from the Youth Opioid Use Treatment Help (YOUTH) Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Peters and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Those provisions will expand an existing substance use treatment program to boost outreach to young adults and improve resources for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for youth. MAT combines behavioral therapy with buprenorphine and other drugs to help prevent accidental overdose and loss of life. This important public health tool is often designed exclusively for adults, making it harder for adolescents to access this proven treatment.


Peters has also worked to improve access to naloxone, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug. He joined U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow to lead a group of 14 colleagues in a letter calling for the Trump Administration to take immediate action to reduce the price of naloxone, which has dramatically increased during the epidemic. For example, Evzio, a hand-held auto-injector, increased in price from $690 in 2014 to more than $4,000 today for a two pack. The Gerrish Township Fire Department carries naloxone to administer in emergency situations.