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Attorney General Mike Hunter: “Oklahomans dying every year from overdose is unacceptable”

OKLAHOMA CITY - Opioid abuse kills about 90 Americans every day. In Oklahoma, about 1,000 people every year are killed by overdose on opioid drugs.

Thursday, on the heels of a major announcement at the White House, Oklahoma continues to make progress in the war on prescription drug abuse.

President Donald Trump is now directing the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

It is a bold move aimed at getting a handle on prescription drug abuse in America.

Oklahoma started attacking the opioid crisis years ago with a monitoring system. Today, Attorney General Mike Hunter wants to do more.

Oklahoma ranks near the top for opioid addiction and death, higher than the national average in many counties.

"We're trying very hard to begin addressing these by more pointed actions," said Oklahoma Medical Association President Kevin Taubman.

The nine-member Opioid Crisis Commission met Thursday for the third of five sessions focused on solutions to reverse the trend in Oklahoma.

Meth once dominated headlines in Oklahoma. Opioid drugs have moved in.

"The market is so demanding we can't catch people with large amounts. As soon as they have the product, it's sold, it's gone, it's used," said Kevin Buchanan, the president of the District Attorneys Association. "It's growing. When I started my practice 30 years ago, we didn't hear about heroine in Oklahoma."

The District Attorneys Association wants more tools for law enforcement to deal with traffickers

According to Attorney General Mike Hunter, about 1,000 Oklahomans die every year from an overdose.

Hunter's commission will recommend policy changes to the legislature to slow the over-prescribing of opioids and invest in treatment programs for the addicted.

"Most doctors are doing what they need to do for their patients. But, there's this minority within a minority that's honestly just engaging in criminal activity," Hunter said.

Hunter's office plans to help the legislature identify a funding source for the war on prescription painkillers. He believes $20 to $30 million would be a good start.

The commission started meeting in August. They'll meet two more times before Hunter prepares his recommendations for the state legislature.