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What is St. Louis Doing?

Franklin County is taking a multi-pronged approach in attacking the growing opioid epidemic facing this area and has received $133,000 in federal grants to fund that fight.  In addition to casework, arrests and possible convictions, it will also spread a wider message of prevention and treatment.[1] 

St. Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH) has worked with a variety of data sources to develop a heroin profile including maps and tables that detail the scope and impact of heroin deaths in the community.  It has also begun exploring additional avenues of data collection, including overdose information from hospitals and ambulance services.[2]

C.R.U.S.H (Community Resources United to Stop Heroin) is an initiative established May 2015 by the Office of St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar. The initiative involves schools, law enforcement, treatment providers, community leaders and health care organizations to address the growing heroin epidemic. 

Awareness and Education

For over 3 years, DPH has participated in awareness and education activities in the community, giving presentations and providing literature and resources, and identifying referral sources for available treatments.  DPH makes referrals to such programs and regularly disseminates information to the public about the availability of high-quality programs.  

DPH has been a participant in distributing information about and supporting Prescription Drug Take Back events, and publishing information about other opportunities to dispose of medicine safely at police stations.

DPH also advocates for prescriber guidelines that promote patient safety and informed, sensible prescribing practices whenever opioids are prescribed since problematic practices are a leading contributor to the epidemic.[3]   DPH has also disseminated the Missouri Hospital Association’s Opiate Prescriber Guidelines.

In partnership with DEA and other community agencies St. Charles County has had two successful Teen Drug Summits, educating approximately 400 middle school students (public and private) on the dangers of heroin and empower them to make good decisions.

  • Mission:  C.R.U.S.H plans and implements events and programs that target education and prevention of substance abuse in their community. These include:
    • Teen Drug Summit: Reaching over 350 6-8th grade students on the dangers of heroin and empowering students to make decisions that result in a drug-free life.
    • School-based Education: Communicating through a classroom setting and/or assemblies the importance of abstaining from drug use and underage drinking.

According to Sgt. Scott Reed, Multi-County Narcotics and Violent Crimes Enforcement Unit commander, Franklin County’s multi-pronged approach in attacking the growing opioid epidemic is not just about enforcement. It’s going to involve a lot of education.  Franklin county residents can expect to see the promotional materials go up around the county as early as this summer.  There will be billboards informing people about treatment options and talks to students about the dangers of prescription opioids and heroin. [4]

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)

The St. Louis County government has passed legislation for a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).  DPH is in support of a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to help prescribers identify patients that may be seeking opiates for abuse. [5]  DPH is responsible for the development and implementation of the PDMP, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2016 and will cover all prescribers and dispensers.

  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are statewide electronic databases that collect designated data on substances dispensed in the state. The PDMP is housed by a specified statewide regulatory, administrative or law enforcement agency. The housing agency distributes data from the database to individuals who are authorized under state law to receive the information for purposes of their profession.[6]

The state of Missouri has not passed legislation to support a PDMP.  Other county jurisdictions can opt into St. Louis County’s PDMP system to help generate a comprehensive regional system

Enforcement

Under St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar – St. Charles County Police Department, in conjunction with DEA, formed a Heroin Initiative to address the alarming increase in heroin use and overdose.

In June 2015, the initial roundup in our heroin initiative had 52 people arrested in a 36 hour time period and charged with various heroin related offenses ranging from possession to involuntary manslaughter and took 34,000 doses of Heroin out of rotation.  An estimated worth of half a million dollars.

St. Charles County had the first three successful prosecutions in the state in which criminal liability under the theory of criminal involuntary manslaughter by way of heroin distribution with resulted in an overdose death.

In an effort to eradicate the distribution of heroin in the St. Charles community, St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar considers it mandatory that all distributors of heroin be sentenced to the Department of Corrections.

The enforcement focus in Franklin County will be on identifying traffickers who are responsible for bringing the opiate based drugs into the county and stopping the drug at the source.

A Franklin County deputy has been assigned to the DEA “360 Strategy” task force, consisting of   officers from the DEA, St. Louis County Police and the St. Francios County Sheriff’s Department, to fight the emerging threat.  The task force, based in St. Louis is the first task force of this kind in this area.  The U.S. Attorney is also on board and awaiting cases that may stem from this new venture.[7]   

The Narcan™ Partnership with the St. Louis County Police will allow county officers to carry and administer Narcan™ to individuals who have overdosed from heroin upon arrival. DPH will continue to support the police use of this tool to stop overdose deaths.[8]

 

[1] Monte Miller, “DEA Heroin Task Force Receives Federal Funding”, Missourian, emissourian.com, April 7, 2016.  http://www.emissourian.com/local_news/county/dea-heroin-task-force-receives-federal-funding/article_16da94eb-feca-572d-9e96-06f835c96824.html

[2] St. Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH)

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Injury Prevention & Control: Prescription Drug Overdose.  http://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose. May 2015

[4] Monte Miller, “DEA Heroin Task Force Receives Federal Funding”, Missourian, emissourian.com, April 7, 2016.  http://www.emissourian.com/local_news/county/dea-heroin-task-force-receives-federal-funding/article_16da94eb-feca-572d-9e96-06f835c96824.html

[5] St. Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH)

[6]State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, Questions and Answers, http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/faq/rx_monitor.htm#1

[7] Monte Miller, “DEA Heroin Task Force Receives Federal Funding”, Missourian, emissourian.com, April 7, 2016.  http://www.emissourian.com/local_news/county/dea-heroin-task-force-receives-federal-funding/article_16da94eb-feca-572d-9e96-06f835c96824.html

[8] St. Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH)