VERMILLION — Opioid misuse, or at least the chance of this class of drugs being used improperly, is a major concern of physicians in South Dakota, according to Robert E. Van Demark Jr., M.D., of Sioux Falls, who serves as president of the South Dakota State Medical Association (SDSMA) Board of Directors.
There are a wide range of issues included in the 2018 advocacy agenda of the SDSMA. There’s a call for support of more funding for medical education in the state. The association is also advocating for an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement physicians receive when treating Medicaid patients.
Tuesday night, physicians of the Vermillion area medical district, officially called the District 8 Medical Society, met at RED Steakhouse in Vermillion with Van Demark to discuss the agenda and healthcare issues of state and national importance.
Nowhere does the agenda state that its issues and concerns appear in order of importance, but the promotion “of safe and effective opioid prescribing” tops the list.
“I think our big thing is going to be the opioid epidemic,” Van Demark said when asked about likely major topics to be discussed before the start of Tuesday’s meeting. “We have a grant from the South Dakota Department of Health for an educational program.
“It’s going to be a two-year program and we’re going to start a program for physicians, other providers and I think for the public to realize what a big problem this is and how dangerous the medications are,” he said.
In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids nationally, according to the CDC. That number is the most recent data available. The CDC reported that prescriptions quadrupled between 1999 and 2012, with South Dakota historically giving out fewer prescriptions per 100 people as compared to neighboring states