Newswise — West Virginia University experts are available to talk about President Donald Trump’s declaration that the opioid epidemic is a public health emergency.                                         

WVU has developed a multi-pronged approach to attacking the opioid crisis, including establishing community partnerships, increasing education for current clinicians and future health professionals, expanding wellness and behavioral health programs and education and skills development programs for patients in treatment and recovery. The University has also undertaken research initiatives into the farther-reaching health effects of the opioid epidemic such as the spread of hepatitis B and C and HIV. 

Dr. Judith Feinberg Professor WVU School of Medicine Dept. of Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry

“We have not seen an HIV outbreak yet. But it’s a ticking time bomb for us, especially in rural areas where the local health system’s ability to detect and mitigate an HIV outbreak may not be well developed.” 

Read more about Feinberg's research WVU researchers, health professionals, lead new effort to prevent HIV and hepatitis C outbreaks related to opioid epidemic 

Contact for Dr. Feinberg: Tara Scatterday, [email protected]; 304.293.0630


Dr. Clay Marsh Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences WVU Health Sciences

“It’s like pulling a weed. If you get rid of what’s above the ground, it’ll come back again. Then there’s the root. We have to respond to the patient’s medical needs while providing community building programs and job training."  

Dr. Marsh participated in an Association of American Medical Colleges event in Washington, D.C, where he spoke about this topic earlier this month.

Contact for Dr. Marsh: Bill Case, [email protected]; 304.293.8045

Patrick McGinley                                                                                                                                                 Charles Haden II Professor of Law                                                                                                                 WVU College of Law


"The opioids crisis affects thousands across the United States in every town city and rural area. Overdose deaths from prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999. More than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids since then. More than 15,000 died in 2015 alone, and the numbers are increasing. These numbers dwarf the American fatalities from all wars from Vietnam to the present. Real leadership, not business as usual politics is needed to resolve this catastrophic situation."

Contact information: [email protected]; 304.293.6823

L. Christopher Plein
Eberly Family Professor for Outstanding Public Service
Department of Public Administration
John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy & Politics
WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences 

“Moving forward, the real work will involve coordination and implementation of new policies, programs, and initiatives among local communities, states, and the federal government. Past and current efforts also need to be accounted for and assessed. The amount of resources that may be available is still unclear. Perhaps most importantly, so too are estimates of what will be required to pursue sustained efforts to address a crisis that has been a long time in the making. While first and foremost a public health matter where individual and family welfare is at stake, responding to this crisis requires strategies that can both help communities recover from the economic and social stress that has followed while building resiliency to prevent the reoccurrence or expansion of this epidemic.” 

Contact information: [email protected]; 304.293.7974 

Simon Haeder
Assistant Professor
John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy & Politics
WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences 

“Declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency is a step in the right direction. The epidemic, including pain killers, heroin, and now the extra potent synthetic opioids, is ravaging communities in West Virginia and around the country. We need to focus on both preventing the creation of new addicts, as well as treating those already addicted. We need a variety of approaches including alternative, holistic pain treatments, prescription registries, and oversight of pharmaceutical companies, wholesalers, and pharmacies. We also need an increase in evidence-based treatment resources for addicts, emergency treatments, and create opportunities to reenter our communities as productive members.”  

“None of this is simple, cheap, or quick. What is needed is a long-term commitment by the federal government to dedicate adequate resources to battling the epidemic. We also need to preserve the crucial resources made available to West Virginians through the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplaces and Medicaid expansion, which have allowed more than 20,000 West Virginians to enter treatment. Unfortunately, the declaration by the Trump Administration does little to augment resources while efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act remain unabated.”

Contact information: [email protected]

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise, or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVU Today.