May 16, 2018

Media Advisory -- Health Law Conference on Nation’s Opioid Epidemic

A symposium hosted by the SIU School of Law on Friday will explore the nation’s opioid epidemic and look at ways to address the crisis.

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the 19th annual SIH/SIU Health Policy Institute program, “Opening Pandora’s Bottle: Law, Policy, and America’s Opioid Epidemic.”  The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in SIU Carbondale’s Hiram H. Lesar Law Building Auditorium.

To arrange for interviews, contact Michele Mekel, SIH/SIU Health Law and Policy programming director, at 618/453-8148 or Judi Ray, SIU School of Law assistant dean for administration, 618/453-8135.

An interactive simulcast will be available at the Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation adjacent to the SIU School of Medicine in Springfield and the Illinois State Bar Association office in Chicago.

Symposium will look at the scope and impact of the opioid crisis

Mekel, an adjunct law professor and SIH/SIU Health Law and Policy programming director, noted the opioid crisis impacts every segment of a community. In 2016, opioid misuse, including abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin, resulted in 33,000 deaths nationwide and nearly 2,000 deaths in Illinois.

“Opioid addiction is tearing apart lives, families and communities throughout the United States, including in Illinois and here in Southern Illinois,” she said.

Varied group of presenters

The conference brochure on the symposium website highlights the issues each presenter will discuss. The presenters are:

  • Christina Porucznik, associate professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine.
  • Valarie K. Blake, associate professor, West Virginia University College of Law.
  • Liz Chiarello, assistant professor of sociology, St. Louis University.
  • Edward C. Covington, former director, Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
  • Dennis A. Wichem, former agent, Drug Enforcement Administration, and partner, Prescription Drug Consulting.
  • Monique A. Anawis, medical director and assistant attorney general, Office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
  • Bradley K. Hart, inspector general, Illinois Medicaid System.
  • Michelle White, principal court management consultant, National Center for State Courts.

Pre-event film screening and discussion will look at one community’s battle

A free screening and discussion of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Heroin(e)” is at 7:30 p.m., May 17, in the law school’s auditorium. The film follows three female professionals on the frontline of the battle against the opioid epidemic in West Virginia. Symposium speakers will join in on a guided discussion after the film.