County Council Creates Emergency Opioid Task Force

Part of the task force's charge will be "to find ways to crack down on medical providers and contractors who over-prescribe to patients."

Michael Calhoun
June 27, 2018 - 4:33 am
Prescription pain RX medication pills spilled out of an amber pharmacy medicine bottle on a pharmacy counter

© Olivier Le Queinec | Dreamstime.com

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CLAYTON (KMOX) -- There's a new task force being formed to come up with ways to finally make a meaningful dent in the region's opioid crisis.

St. Louis County Council members passed a resolution establishing the task force and also requested a million dollars in emergency funding.

Asked where that money will come from, councilman Mark Harder replied: "We'll find the money if they come up with a good idea."

Harder, a Republican from west county, says he hopes there's diversity in experience on the panel, including experts on health, addiction and law enforcement.

"We don't know what we don't know until this committee meets and we want to make sure that every idea is on the table," he said.

Each council member gets to appoint someone to the task force and they're giving the County Executive four appointments.

Harder says for his he plans to choose Ken McManus, who's organized opioid intervention meetings in the Parkway School District.

Part of the task force's charge will be "to find ways to crack down on medical providers and contractors who over-prescribe to patients."

Their "road map" on that and other issues will be expected by the end of August.

Council members voted unanimously to approve the task force. In an unusual but symbolic gesture, each council member requested to be a "sponsor" of the legislation.

The county spearheaded the creation of a prescription drug monitoring program three years ago that much of the state is now a part of.

But Harder wants to develop a more comprehensive approach to the crisis.

"We're out of ideas, I think, as a region," he said. "Everybody is putting band-aid fixes on this -- and doing a pretty good job -- but we need to be leaders."