Bredesen, Blackburn to Speak at Opioid Summit
Four candidates in Tennessee’s two biggest political races will take the stage Friday to speak on opioids during a summit in downtown Nashville.
Senatorial candidates Republican Marsha Blackburn and Democrat Phil Bredesen and gubernatorial candidates Republican Bill Lee and Democrat Karl Dean are all scheduled to make presentations on the opioid epidemic during a summit organized by Healthy Tennessee, a health education nonprofit.
The summit will also feature expert panel discussions about fentanyl, counterfeit prescription medication and challenges combating the opioid crisis.
“The state of the opioid crisis in Tennessee is devastating. Right now, about three people a day die over an overdose,” said Dr. Manny Sethi, one of the founders of Healthy Tennessee, during a recent interview on Grand Divisions, The Tennessean’s political podcast.
“It was just the perfect storm that hit us and we did not realize the addictive power of these drugs,” Sethi added.
Blackburn is scheduled to speak about the epidemic for about 20 minutes at 9:55 a.m, according to a summit agenda. Bredesen will follow at 11:05 a.m. Lee and Dean will share the stage at noon.
The deadly opioid crisis has plagued Tennessee and the nation for years and shows no signs of stopping.
State health officials announced earlier this week that 1,776 Tennessee died of drug overdoses in 2017, the most since recording began. A majority of those overdoses were the result of opioid abuse, with skyrocketing deaths attributed to fentanyl, which is similar to heroin but exceptionally more powerful.
The opioid summit, held at the Hermitage Hotel, will span most of Friday.