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Free public forum at Baystate Medical Center on reducing opioid deaths

November 07, 2017

Every day, more than 140 Americans die from opioid overdose. In Massachusetts alone, there were 1,990 confirmed opioid-related deaths last year.

To address this national and regional crisis,Baystate Medical Center will be the site of a free forum entitled “Reducing Opioid Overdose Deaths – What Works?” on Nov. 30 from 6-8:30 p.m.

Open to the public, the community and academic forum will bring together national experts, regional and community leaders to discuss evidence-based ways to reduce deaths from opioid overdose.

High death rates in New England

“In this country, in terms of opioid addiction and death, we are seeing the equivalent of an airline crash every three days. More Americans died last year from opioids than in the entire Vietnam War,” said Dr. Peter Friedmann, chief research officer, Baystate Health and president-elect of the Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine. “New England has the dubious distinction of having five of the 15 states with the highest death rates nationally.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recognizes the tremendous social and economic burden of the opioid epidemic, noting the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

Meet the speakers

Among the speakers at the free forum will be:

  • Dr. Peter D. Friedmann, MD, MPH, DFASAM, FACP, president-elect of the Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine
  • Robert J. Roose, MD, MPH, FASAM, vice president, Mercy Behavioral Health Care
  • Alexander Y. Walley, MD, MSc, medical director, Opioid Overdose Prevention Pilot Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Liz Whynott, MPH, director, HIV Health and Prevention, Tapestry Health
  • Brandon D.L. Marshall, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public Health
  • Jess Tilley, director, New England Users Union.


There will be an opportunity for discussion and questions following the presentation of speakers.

“People are dying in the prime of life, and there are things that we could be doing and doing better,” said Dr. Friedmann. “This special forum will give us an opportunity to look at the science in a clearheaded way as we form a response to this public health emergency.”

The event is co-sponsored by UMass Medical School – Baystate, Springfield Department of Health, Tapestry Health, SIFMA Now Western Chapter, the New England Users Union, and the Massachusetts Society of Addiction Medicine.

No registration is needed for the forum, which will be held on Baystate Medical Center’s Chestnut Building, 1 A/B Conference Room.

For answers to your questions

For more information about the Nov. 30 free forum, call 413-794-7717 or email