Opioid crisis will be a hot topic for West Virginia legislators

WHEELING, WV - It's no secret the U.S. is burdened with an opioid epidemic and West Virginia is one of the hardest hit.

But it's now a new year, which means it's time for new chances.

West Virginia legislators are now focused on figuring out the next steps.

"We know that these pharmaceutical companies are just dumping pills into our state by the millions and to this point we've done nothing to stop them. I think you're going to see more of a drastic approach to see how many pills are coming in and how we can reduce that," said Shawn Fluharty, West Virginia Delegate.

"I think that there's going to be some legislation  that will likely be introduced that may require people that received multiple doses of Narcan maybe to seek treatment.  There are going to be multiple pieces of likely to be introduced," said Erikka Storch, West Virginia Delegate.

In the past, legislators have focused on the end of the line, meaning incarceration issues and death toll impacts.

But Delegate Fluharty believes past actions haven't done enough.

"We've allowed these pharmaceutical companies to just get away literally with murder. They're distributing millions of pills and everybody can see it, but nobody's doing anything about it. At the end of the day, they have a powerful lobbyist. They spend a lot of money to make sure things go their way and it's really upsetting as a legislator to see that happening," Fluharty said.

But as legislators, there's only so much they can do.
The opioid epidemic is a bigger issue than just the governor and the Mountain State's 134 delegates.

That's why Delegate Storch believes we can only fix this problem together.

"We need to really look at it as a state-wide issue, a state-wide epidemic. We need to be focused as a state and say 'We want better in West Virginia. We don't want to go down this path.' We're tired of being the first on all the bad lists and the last on all the good lists." Storch said.

Legislators will meet starting January 10th.

We'll be sure to keep you updated.

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