What strategy would you adopt to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis?
Bruno: In January, I wrote an editorial for the Sun, entitled “Opioid Makers Should Pay for Anti-Addiction Efforts,” which spells out some of the ways I would address the opioid crisis. Firstly, as with the tobacco companies, we should hold the pharmaceutical companies accountable for their deceptive advertising of opioid painkillers—and sue to ensure that they pay as much of the costs as possible for solving the crisis. The opioid epidemic is officially the worst drug epidemic in our country’s history, killing more people in 2017 than traffic collisions and firearms combined. We can stem the tide upstream, by reducing the number and duration of prescriptions and ensuring patients have access to non-addictive pain treatments like physical therapy; midstream, by increasing funding for rehabilitative services, diverting addicts away from incarceration and into treatment, and taking bold new steps like establishing supervised injection facilities; and downstream, by ensuring that naloxone is widely available at an affordable price. In most of the country, including in Maryland, the opioid epidemic shows no signs of abating, which is why we should be keen to learn from places that are having an impact. Vermont’s “hub-and-spoke” system, for example, has fostered coordination among providers and drastically reduced wait times for addicts seeking treatment. There is not a single supervised injection facility in the United States, despite the decades of evidence that these programs save lives, reduce infections, and get people into treatment. We can only solve the opioid crisis by combining compassion with evidence-based policy.