WHEATON (Fox 32 News) - Opioid deaths in DuPage have surged as they have in many parts of the country.
“President Trump has made opioids in America his signal health focus,” said Eric Hargan, Deputy HHS Secretary.
Hargan was in Wheaton on Wednesday to map out new strategies against opioid abuse. The roundtable discussion follows Presdient Trump's announcement Monday of a plan to fight the epidemic with tougher penalties on drug dealers, cutbacks on opioid prescriptions and increased access to help for addiction.
“The president is very dedicated on this issue, in a very personal way, I've had numerous interactions with him on this front, he's personally dedicated to making sure this issue is turned around,” Hargan said.
The DuPage County coroner says the county had 95 deaths from opioid overdoses in 2017 -- the same number as 2016 -- but nearly double the 51 deaths from 2015.
DuPage County state's attorney Bob Berlin and Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti also participated in the roundtable.
“In sum, it takes a community effort to beat this epidemic,” Sanguinetti said.
DuPage officials shared some successful strategies that HHS might be able to duplicate around the country.
“We've been able to get all of our elected officials, our health department and police officers, to get together, for example, to do our naloxone or Narcan program to where we've saved 450 lives since 2013,” said DuPage County coroner Richard Jorgensen.
Hargan is from downstate Illinois and says drugs have been an issue there for as long as he can remember. But now the opioid crisis is hitting every community in the U.S. -- which is why a federal response is now needed.