A new app is fighting the opioid epidemic

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By Brandon Jarvis

Attorney General. Herring today announced a partnership between his office and a non-profit that is working to educate smartphone users about opioids using incentives.  The Preventum Initiative has implemented FEND (Full Energy, No Drugs), an opioid education and prevention campaign for Virginia teenagers. FEND is an  app that is supposed to help teenagers learn about the negative effects of opioids by rewarding them for learning.

“The opioid epidemic has taken a devastating toll on communities across Virginia,” said Attorney General Herring. “Partnerships like this one with Preventum Initiative and programs like FEND are critical tools we can use to teach young people about the dangers of addiction, opioids, and prescription drugs so they are better equipped to handle situations. I will continue to make combating the heroin and opioid epidemic a top priority and I look forward to working with Preventum Initiative to help make our communities safer.”

In 2016, 1,138 people died of opioid overdoses in Virginia, and it has been estimated that there were 1,217 deaths in 2017.

Eleven different cities and counties in Virginia have teamed up for one suit in order to sue opioid manufacturers. Counties and cities involved in the recent request include: The City of Martinsville, Henry County, Dickenson County, Washington County, Lee County, Giles County, the City of Norton, the City of Galax, Pittsburgh County, Page County and the City of Alexandria.

The companies that are being sued are the manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Abbott Laboratories, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals; Teva Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon, Inc., Barr Laboratories, Inc., Actavis Pharma, Watson Laboratories, Inc., Allergan PLC, and Insys Therapeutics; distributors AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp., Cardinal Health Inc., and McKesson Corp.; and PBMs Express Scripts, Inc., CVS Health; United Health Group Inc., and OptumRx, Inc.

A statement from one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs said that “The lawsuits allege that the opioid crisis in Virginia has killed thousands of Virginians, has caused thousands more to suffer dire health consequences, and has cost counties and cities across the Commonwealth hundreds of millions of dollars by increasing the costs of law enforcement and court services, foster care and child placement services, and other services for which local communities have had to bear the cost. The lawsuits aim to recover costs of this nature.”

The lawsuits won’t stop the damage that is happening right now.

The FEND website says they are “combining cutting-edge tech, music, and streetwear, FEND is all about empowering you.” The app was developed by Preventum Initiative INC, a non-profit that claims to “bring together technologists and researchers to solve complex public health problems.” They partnered with the Vans Warped Tour this past summer, saying they engaged with more than 30,000 young people on the tour. Billboard gave Kevin Lyman the founder of the Vans Warped Tour and a brand ambassador to FEND a Humanitarian award this year.

“FEND gives young people the facts about opioids, prescription drugs, and addiction so they can make informed choices about their health,” said Jacquii Burgess, Executive Director of the Preventum Initiative. “Understanding what an opioid is, why they’re so addictive, and how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose can potentially save a life. We are thrilled to partner with Attorney General Herring to educate Virginia’s young people about opioids and other drugs.”

If this epidemic is not made a priority, we will need to remind our politicians that elections have consequences.

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