MaineGeneral’s Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer to Testify at Aging Committee Hearing on National Epidemic of Prescription Opioid Abuse

Hearing Scheduled for Wednesday, February 24, 2:30 PM, Dirksen Room 562

 

Washington, D.C.— Steve Diaz, M.D., the Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of MaineGeneral Health, will testify at an upcoming Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing titled, “Opioid Use Among Seniors—Issues and Emerging Trends.”  The hearing will examine a facet of one of the foremost public health challenges facing our nation: opioid addiction.  Dr. Diaz is testifying at the invitation of Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee.

According to Dr. Diaz, Maine is in the midst of an opioid epidemic.  The Emergency Department at MaineGeneral has seen a substantial increase in both the number and average age of patients affected by this epidemic.  Dr. Diaz believes that the current system for treating chronic pain, which prioritizes prescription opioids over other pain control methods, leads to higher incidents of opioid addiction, diversion, and overdoses.

Seniors are prescribed more opioids than people in any other demographic group.  These prescriptions provide critical pain relief to seniors suffering from ailments ranging from bone fractures to cancer.  Because seniors are so commonly treated with opioid painkillers, their home medicine cabinets often become an unintentional supply source for younger family members to either experiment with opioids or to fuel their addiction. 

The Aging Committee’s hearing will explore the medical use of opioids for pain relief and the challenges health care providers face in treating pain in an environment where the diversion of prescription painkillers is contributing to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

 

Additional witnesses for the hearing include:

Sean Cavanaugh, Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Washington, D.C.

Ann Maxwell, Assistant Inspector General, Office of Evaluation and Inspections, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.

Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, Health Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana

Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, Redlich Professor, Departments of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Neurosciences and Neurology, Chief, Division of Pain Medicine, Director, Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab, Stanford School of Medicine, California; Member of Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education