On December 3, 2018, the Louisiana Department of Health released the recommendations of an expert panel on how to address the opioid epidemic in the state. The recommendations call for (1) improving access to non-opioid treatments for pain; (2) expanding access to effective treatment; (3) establishing a quality improvement system for treatment providers; (4) treating addiction as a chronic illness; (5) expanding the use of peer recovery specialists; and (6) investing in models of care that support women and families. Each recommendation includes specific, actionable steps and suggested measures to monitor improvement.


The expert panel includes Dr. Rochelle Dunham, the former director of behavioral health for the state; Dr. Joseph Kantor, a leading state public health official; and Dr. Sarah Hamauei, a specialist in addiction medicine Shreveport. Working over two months, the experts reviewed information gathered from a public comment period and four public meetings, the last an all-day meeting in Baton Rouge on October 5.

The experts found that “Louisiana has taken several important actions to address this epidemic,” including passing legislation on opioid prescriptions, establishing a standing order for naloxone, requiring education in schools, setting up syringe exchange programs, and mandating continuing medical education for prescribers.

To make additional progress, the panel set out 14 action steps to accomplish the six recommendations. Given the scale of the epidemic, the actions steps involve a diverse set of agencies and organizations, including insurers, medical schools, the correctional system, law enforcement, the treatment community, and the Medicaid program.

The expert recommendations will inform the development of an updated statewide strategy early next year. For the next 30 days, the Department of Health is seeking public comments on these recommendations as the next step in the development of an updated statewide strategy in early 2019. The survey will close on December 31st, 2018
Read the expert panel recommendations here: 
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