Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stops in St. Louis to address - KMOV.com

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stops in St. Louis to address opioid epidemic

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(Credit: KMOV) (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS, Mo. ( KMOV.com) - Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made a pit stop in St. Louis in July 21 to address the opioid addiction across the country, but particularly in Missouri.

The former Iowa governor met with Sen. Claire McCaskill in a roundtable discussion with St. Louis-area law enforcement and healthcare leaders. He called congress to pass funding to fight the epidemic. If the $1 billion bill is passed, Missouri would receive millions in funding. 

Vilsack is concerned about Missouri because it is the only state in the United States without a prescription drug monitoring program. 

Heroin overdose is a growing problem, Vilsack said the pharmaceutical industry claimed years ago the drugs were not addictive. 

"The reality is this is a disease and we now know opioids are addictive. So those with two facts that we've now been able to establish this is awareness we can do something as a community not just an individual," said Vilsack. 

City Health Director Melba Moore is familiar with the rising rates of heroin deaths in St. Louis in 2016.

"80 opioid deaths in City of St. Louis so far this year. Those are human lives so it's important that we remember to continue to get energized because this is a long stretch that we have to go through," said Moore. 

Copyright 2016 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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