Dr. Thomas Gilson Speaks on Capitol Hill Thursday

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson testifies at a Senate panel on the opioid crisis
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Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson testified on Capitol Hill Thursday.  He was part of a Senate panel addressing the increased use of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanyl, in the U-S.

Less than six months into 2017, Gilson predicts an approximately 21 percent increase in total overdose deaths compared to last year in Cuyahoga County.

He says one step in addressing this epidemic is a “re-education” of the medical community when it comes to prescribing pain medication.  And, Gilson says, those who do so irresponsibly should be held accountable.

“If we gave prescription pain medication to everyone in this room, they would become addicted to prescription pain medication," Gilson said. "They would become addicted to opioids. We have created a substantial, large addicted population through the use and abuse of prescription pain medication. That is absolutely, inconvertibly true.”

Going forward, Gilson says he fears a rise in the use of carfentanyl – a drug used to tranquilize elephants, and a corresponding increase in overdose deaths.

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