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In battle against opioid crisis, Justice plan starts with two West Virginia counties


Charleston Gazette-Mail

Dr. Michael Brumage, left, shakes hands with Gov. Jim Justice after the announcement that Brumage, director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, will head West Virginia’s Office of Drug Control Policy.
(Gazette-Mail photo by Kenny Kemp)


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With drug overdose deaths soaring in West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice unveiled a plan Monday to target two counties ravaged by the opioid epidemic in hopes of finding solutions to the worst public health crisis in state history.

The “demonstration project” aims to stanch the flow of drugs, get more addicts into treatment and reduce fatal overdoses.

Justice said he has selected Wyoming County for the project. The other county will be from the Northern or Eastern Panhandle, he said.

The state plans to spend at least $10 million, the governor said.

“We know everything we’ve done thus far has failed,” Justice said during a news conference at the state Capitol. “We’re going to try to put together a playbook. I’m trying to come up with an answer to the problem.”

Also Monday, Justice announced the hiring of Dr. Michael Brumage to head the state’s Office of Drug Control Policy, an agency responsible for coordinating the state’s response to the opioid crisis. Brumage, now chief health officer at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, will replace Jim Johnson, who resigned after five months on the job.

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