Suzanne Amato Nesbit is spreading the word on the threat of opiates, and she has brought that word to Palm Beach County.
Nesbit is the president of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and is part of the neuroscience pain resource team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She has practiced pain management and palliative care for over 30 years.
Nesbit held a lecture in West Palm Beach to explain the nature of the ongoing opioid crisis in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 130 people die every day from overdosing on opioids.
The crisis began in the late 1990s when pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community and its patients that addiction to pain relieving opioids was not possible. This misinformation has become increasingly fatal over the past two decades. Over 47,000 Americans lost their lives from opioid addiction in 2017. That number is just under 10,000 lower than the official death toll for Americans in the Vietnam war.
Nesbit’s lecture sought to educate medical students and their teachers in West Palm Beach about the immensity of the issue. Nesbit said that there has been a 54 percent increase in opioid overdoses in big cities.For Nesbit, the epidemic is not only a global concern, but a personal “passion,” due to her long career involving pain management and palliative care.
Nesbit said the Trump Administration still has a long way to go in its handling of the crisis.
“There is more work to be done. There was legislation just signed into law, the Support Act. That will continue funding to address the opioid crisis,” Nesbit said. “There’s clearly more work to do from all areas of the government, to have funding available, get other non-opiate analgesics through the FDA (Food and Drug Agency). Still a lot of work to be done.”
One of those areas that Nesbit said still needs to be worked out involves the current healthcare system. Recently, there has been concern that a lack of access to legal pain medication is causing victims of the crisis to become addicted to opioids off the black market.
“We must be careful that we don’t put in so many restrictions or go too far, that patients with legitimate pain cannot access the medication they need,” Nesbit said.
By Benjamin Wainer