Category Archives: Health

WIC Farmers Markets Coming to North Georgia!

Delicious fresh fruits and vegetables available this summer at several Farmers Markets presented by North Georgia’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) services.

WIC Farmers Markets in North Georgia

Families on the WIC program who attend will be provided $30 worth of produce one time this year.

Location and dates below:

  • Dalton’s Mack Gaston Community Center, 218 N. Frederick Street, Dalton – Thursday, June 14th, 8 AM – 2 PM
  • Murray County Health Department, 709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road, Chatsworth  – Tuesday, June 19th, 8 AM – 2 PM
  • Pickens County Health Department, 60 Health Way, Jasper – Tuesday, June 19th, 8 AM – Noon
  • Whitfield County Health Department – Thursday, June 21st, 8 AM – 2 PM
  • Fannin County Health Department, 95 Ouida Street, Blue Ridge – Thursday, June 21st, 8 AM – Noon
  • Gilmer County Health Department, 28 Southside Church Street, Ellijay – Tuesday, June 26th, 8 AM – Noon
  • Cherokee County Health Department, Canton Health Center, 1219 Univeter Road, Canton – Tuesday, July 3rd, 8 AM – Noon
  • Dalton’s Mack Gaston Community Center, 218 N. Frederick Street, Dalton – Thursday, July 12th, 8 AM – 2 PM
  • Pickens County Health Department, 60 Health Way, Jasper – Tuesday, July 17th, 8 AM – Noon
  • Cherokee County Health Department, Woodstock Health Center, 7545 North Main Street, Woodstock – Wednesday, July 18th
  • Fannin County Health Department, 95 Ouida Street, Blue Ridge – Thursday, July 19th, 8 AM – Noon
  • Whitfield County Health Department, 800 Professional Boulevard, Dalton – Thursday, July 19th, 8 AM – 2 PM
  • Murray County Health Department, 709 Old Dalton-Ellijay Road, Chatsworth – Tuesday, July 24th, 8 AM – 2 PM
  • Gilmer County Health Department, 28 Southside Church Street, Ellijay – Tuesday, July 31st, 8 AM – Noon
  • Cherokee County Health Department, Canton Health Center, 1219 Univeter Road, Canton – Wednesday, August 1st, 8 AM – Noon
  • Cherokee County Health Department, Woodstock Health Center, 7545 North Main Street, Woodstock – Wednesday, August 15th, 8 AM – Noon
  • Fannin County Health Department, 95 Ouida Street, Blue Ridge – Thursday, August 16th, 8 AM – Noon
  • Pickens County Health Department, 60 Health Way, Jasper – Tuesday, August 21st, 8 AM – Noon
  • Gilmer County Health Department, 28 Southside Church Street, Ellijay – Tuesday, August 28th, 8 AM – Noon
  • Cherokee County Health Department, Canton Health Center, 1219 Univeter Road, Canton – Wednesday, September 5th, 8 AM – Noon
  • Cherokee County Health Department, Woodstock Health Center, 7545 North Main Street, Woodstock – Wednesday, September 19th, 8 AM – Noon

For more information, call (706) 370-4700.

House Unanimously Approves Carter Opioid Bills

The United States House of Representatives unanimously approved three bills today introduced by Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) as part of his ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Carter is the only pharmacist currently serving in the U.S. Congress.

“We are losing 115 Americans a day from an opioid overdose,” said Carter. “We cannot sit idly by as this epidemic takes more parents, sons, daughters, friends and neighbors. It is plaguing our nation and no community is safe. These bills work to provide important tools to combat this crisis and I thank my colleagues in the House for approving them today. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to consider these bills as soon as possible.”

The House passed three bills introduced by Carter including:

  • The Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act. Currently, federal law prohibits a medical practitioner from dispensing controlled substances through the internet without first evaluating the patient in-person. This legislation, the Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act, instructs the Attorney General to take the necessary steps to allow for the prescription of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other controlled substances via telemedicine. It requires a special registration to connect patients with the treatment they need without risking important safeguards to prevent misuse or diversion.
  • The Abuse Deterrent Access Act. Abuse deterrent formulations (ADFs) represent a breakthrough technology that helps prevent the crushing, snorting, and injection of painkillers.  Currently, many prescription drug plans present access barriers for chronic pain patients to ADFs including cost-sharing tiers, fail-first requirements, and prior authorization requirements. Instead of receiving ADFs, often patients are limited to using traditional opioids that can be easily diverted, crushed, snorted, and injected. Carter’s legislation, the Abuse Deterrent Access Act of 2018, directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a study on barriers to accessing abuse deterrent opioid formulations for chronic pain patients enrolled in Medicare.
  • The Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act introduced with Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-Ca.). This legislation would require federal agencies to develop and distribute materials to better educate pharmacists on when they are allowed by law to decline to fill a prescription for a controlled substance. These circumstances include the suspicion of fraud, forgery, or other forms of alteration.

Post Session Update: Combatting the Opioid Epidemic

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is an epidemic that has claimed more than 630,000 lives from 1999 to 2016. While your immediate thought might be that this epidemic is referring to vehicle accidents, cancer, heart disease or another type of health condition, you would be wrong. The growing epidemic the CDC is referring to is drug overdoses from illicit drugs and prescription opioids. In 2016 alone there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths and opioids contributed to 66 percent of those. According to the CDC, this means that on average “115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.”

Drug overdoses, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids, in Georgia in 2016 totaled more than 1,400 according to the Georgia Department of Health data. In comparison, 10 years earlier in 2006, the number of drug overdose deaths was approximately 767. Georgia’s rate of opioid overdoses rose 10.5 percent from 2014-2015, categorizing our state as a “significant” increase in overdoses. While some may argue about the causes of opioid addiction and why overdose rates have grown so drastically, the fact of the matter is that it is killing Georgians at an alarming rate. This is an epidemic that will require a combined effort by our national and local elected officials, law enforcement community, health professionals and our citizens to end.

During the 2018 session, we focused on appropriating funds to combat the opioid epidemic in Georgia. We appropriated around $2.3 million in the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget for 11 positions to expand drug enforcement task forces statewide. Additionally, $4 million was appropriated to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to provide substance abuse recovery programs and the Department of Community Health will receive $244,317 to support annual inspection of narcotic treatment programs. These are just a few of the highlights of the over $11 million that was appropriated in the FY19 budget to address the opioid epidemic.

In addition to what was appropriated in the FY19 budget, the legislation below was passed during the 2018 session:

  • Senate Bill 407:  This legislation gives Department of Public Health (DPH) the authority to share prescription information, if the program or system contains safeguards that meet security requirements of DPH, with a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) operated by another state or electronic health record system operated by a prescriber or health care facility. This legislation was signed by the on Governor on May 7, 2018, and will become effective on July 1, 2018.
  • Senate Resolution 832: Creates the Senate Study Committee on Risks Associated with Kratom which will study the use and risks of kratom. After conducting meetings around the state with stakeholders, the study committee will determine if the state needs to take legislative action to address this issue.
  • House Bill 701: This legislation adds all forms of opioids to be included in drug testing for state employment. This legislation was signed by the Governor on May 3, 2018, and will become effective on July 1, 2018.

As the staggering statistics show, drug addiction is a disease that affects not only the person who is suffering from addiction but their families, friends, communities and so many more. It is a disease that affects people from every walk of life and doesn’t discriminate based on social class, age, gender or ethnicities. Families of those who lost the battle are left with years of grief and unanswered questions. We know this epidemic is not something we can cure in a one-step solution but I believe positive strides were made this past session.

If you have any questions about anything related to appropriations or legislation aimed at combatting the opioid epidemic or other legislation passed this session, please do not hesitate to reach out. I will continue to update you over the course of the next few weeks on other legislation that passed during the 2018 session. Remember, I am always here to help if I can be of service in any way.