Trump declares opioid crisis a public health emergency: U-M experts available

October 26, 2017
Contact: Laurel Thomas


University of Michigan experts can comment on President Trump’s announcement today declaring the national opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Amy Bohnert, associate professor of psychiatry, is a healthcare researcher who specializes in studying opioid addiction treatment and overdose, and finding ways to reduce misuse. Her work has shown that brief motivational interviews with opioid misusers in the emergency department can reduce ongoing risky use. She has provided scientific guidance to the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force and to the CDC in developing its opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain. She leads an effort that is working to help more Michigan physicians and their teams treat opioid addiction via medication assisted therapy.

Contact: 734-764-2220, Chad Brummett

Chad Brummett, professor of anesthesiology and co-director of the Michigan Opioid Prescribing and Engagement Network (Michigan-OPEN), is a pain treatment specialist who with colleagues has developed a comprehensive approach to helping surgical teams prescribe opioids more wisely and studied the role of surgery-related prescriptions in increasing the likelihood of opioid misuse. The team has also organized multiple drug take-back events and has created a manual to help others hold such events. Brummett heads the Division of Pain Research in the U-M Department of Anesthesiology. Also available: Jennifer Waljee and Michael Englesbe, co-directors of Michigan-OPEN.

Contact: 734-764-2220,

Rebecca Cunningham, is an emergency physician who directs the U-M Injury Center, funded by the CDC. She served on the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force. She has studied opioid overuse and overdose from both the clinical and policy perspective, and is involved in an effort to improve overdose surveillance across Michigan.

Contact: 734-764-2220,

Rebecca Haffajee, assistant professor of health management and policy at the U-M School of Public Health, is also a lawyer whose work intersects law and public health. Her research looks at the effects of behavioral health and pharmaceutical policies. She can comment on the overall opioid problem, alternative therapies and use of data to track and analyze prescribing trends.

“The president’s public health emergency declaration with respect to the opioid crisis is a long-anticipated step that should go beyond symbolism,” she said. “If adequately backed by funds, the declaration empowers the Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services to take urgent actions, such as expanding access to the opioid overdose reversal drug, naloxone, and to medication-assisted treatment therapies. But longer-term solutions focused on over-prescribing of opioids, addiction treatment expansion and social determinants of opioid use disorders are also sorely needed.”

Contact: 617-413-8652,

Pooja Lagisetty, is a general internal medicine physician and U-M health care researcher who provides medication-assisted therapy at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare Center, and works to improve use of MAT in primary care. Her recent study compiling the best evidence about this form of opioid addiction treatment supports the idea that general clinicians can play a key role in helping patients overcome opioid use issues.

Contact: 734-764-2220,


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