Macomb judge named to state drug task force

Gov. Rick Snyder has announced creation of a task force focused on addressing the growing prescription drug and opioid problem.

Among those selected to serve on the panel is Macomb County 41B District Court Judge Linda Davis.

Davis is president of Families Against Narcotics, a grassroots organization that originated in Fraser in 2007. The mission of the group is “to educate, change the face of addiction and erase the stigma of addiction.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, who will serve as chairman of the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force, said prescription drug and opioid addiction has quadrupled the number of unintentional drug deaths in Michigan since 1999 “and we must come together to reverse this trend before more Michiganders are hurt.”

Creation of the task force is a result of the call for a comprehensive plan to address prescription drug and opioid abuse in Snyder’s 2015 State of the State address. The bipartisan task force will examine the recent trends, evaluate strategic options, and develop a statewide action plan by fall 2015, officials said.

The Fiscal Year 2016 budget includes $1.5 million to address statewide concerns on this issue.

Attorney General Bill Schuette and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon will have leadership roles.

The remainder of the task force include other stakeholders from state government as well as medical, law enforcement and court officials.

“The damaging effects of drugs like opioids are hurting our families and communities,” Schuette said. “We must work together to help end this growing epidemic before it hurts public safety and our economic recovery.”

Other members include:

• Nick Lyon, director of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

• Mike Zimmer, director of the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

• Kriste Etue, director of the Michigan State Police.

• State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich.

• State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker.

• State Rep. Anthony Forlini.

• State Rep. Andy Schor.

• Victor Fitz, Cass County prosecutor.

• Chief James Craig, Detroit Police Department.

• Sheriff Mike Lovelace, Marquette County.

• Spencer Johnson, president of Michigan Health and Hospital Association.

• Conrad Mallett, chief administrative officer of Detroit Medical Center and former Michigan Supreme Court justice and chief justice.

• Steve Bell, Michigan Osteopathic Association.

• Laurie Wesolowicz, director of pharmacy services clinical, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

• R. Corey Waller, Spectrum Health.

• Larry Wagenknecht, CEO of Michigan Pharmacists Association.

• Bob Lathers, CEO of Ionia County Community Mental Health.

• Matt Clay, director of Health Services at Pokagon Band of Potawatomi.

The state began efforts to address the problem in 2014 with the signing of legislation requiring EMS responders to be trained to administer antidotes for opioids that can save lives in the case of an overdose.