University of Pittsburgh

Public health class advises how to intervene in the opioid epidemic

May 19, 2016

Kathleen Creppage and colleagues, as part of their Public health class, advise how to intervene in the opioid epidemic in the University Times.

When agent Brian Dempsey of the local Drug Enforcement Agency office made his first visit to Pitt’s Law in Public Health Practice course in mid-semester, he told the students that Pittsburgh is now one of the epicenters of the heroin epidemic — and that the “feeder system” of prescription opioid pain medications is to blame.


The students already had been working for weeks in small teams to research, formulate and present to the Allegheny County Health Department a proposal for the law, and the public health system, to intervene in the opioid epidemic. The interdisciplinary class included a student in the Graduate School of Public Health’s master of public health program; another working toward a PhD in genetics; medical students; an undergraduate aiming for a bachelor’s degree in economics; and even a Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) master of public policy student. Public health faculty member Elizabeth Van Nostrand, director of the school’s JD/MPH program and associate director for law and policy in the Center for Public Health Practice, was the instructor for the course.

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