On October 19th, Policy Bridge brought twenty state policy makers and Duke researchers together in the offices of Governor Roy Cooper to explore areas for collaboration related to the opioid crisis. The objectives of the meeting were:

  1. To help state officials better understand the range of resources at Duke upon which they can draw.
  2. To alert Duke researchers and clinicians to the issues facing policy makers in order to sharpen the relevance of current and future research, and improve clinical practice.
  3. To consider whether an ongoing interagency and cross-departmental conversation between Duke and NC State government would be valuable.

The Governor’s Policy Director, Jenni Owen, joined Professor Fritz Mayer to moderate a discussion covering a myriad of issues related to the opioid epidemic in North Carolina. The state-level government representatives in attendance included officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Public Security, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Governor’s Office. On the Duke side were researchers representing both social science and hard science perspectives, including the Center for Child and Family Policy, the Health Data Science Center, Government Relations, the Institute for Brain Sciences, the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, and the Duke Health System Opioid Safety Committee.

One primary topic of interest was the divergent views between health practitioners and law enforcement officers regarding the merits of, and best practices around, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).  Also of note were future legislative efforts by Duke Government Relations and Duke Health System Opioid Safety Committee to provide feedback on the policy implications of North Carolina’s Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act, signed into law by Governor Cooper in late June 2017.

Policy Bridge has made the opioid crisis one of its signature policy areas of interest and will continue to convene meetings aimed at creating stronger networks of communication and collaboration between Duke’s cutting-edge researchers and state policymakers across the spectrum.