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‘Bruce & Pamela’ to cover Arizona’s opioid epidemic this week

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

PHOENIX — This week, KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes Show is devoting special coverage to Arizona’s opioid epidemic.

Each day starting at 10 a.m., the show will dedicate at least two segments to discuss different aspects of the epidemic, including addiction, lawsuits against pharmacies, prescription laws, chronic pain, and what Arizona is doing to combat the issue. 

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect each day:

MONDAY: Gabriel Tomaeno and his mother, Robin Byrne, will be in studio to discuss his past, which includes opioid addiction, and his future. Gabriel has been sober since March 2012. He and his family run Purpose Healing Clinic, a rehab facility in Scottsdale focused on men with drug and alcohol dependence.

TUESDAY: Unit Chief Counsel of the Consumer Litigation Unit Matthew du Mee will join the show. du Mee has been heavily involved in the cases against Insys and Purdue Pharma. What role have manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies played in getting people addicted to these drugs and escalating the epidemic?

WEDNESDAY: Executive Director of the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association, Pete Wertheim, will discuss the laws that doctors in Arizona must follow when prescribing opioids to patients. They have a database they must enter data into called the Prescription Monitoring Program. But why aren’t many doctors using it?

THURSDAY: Dr. Tony Bui, a pain relief specialist, will join the show. He will talk about patients who need opioids to deal with their chronic pain. They will also talk in studio with Lori Cutter, who uses opioids to treat her illness. Cutter says opioids are a “tool in her toolbox” for treating her disease. She will explain how the epidemic is affecting patients who need these drugs.

FRIDAY: Jessica Rigler, assistant director at the Arizona Department of Health Services, will join the show. She will be in studio to talk about the state of the epidemic in Arizona, and what the state has done to combat the issue. Is it working? What does an end to the epidemic look like? How does this epidemic compare to others in the state’s past? The show will also have Brandon Lee in studio. Lee is a former TV news anchor at Channel 3 who has a new book out about his life and addiction. Lee was never addicted to opioids, but will talk about how you never really know the face of addiction in your community. Lee said he used to go on TV and then use drugs in the parking lot right after.

To reach the Arizona Opioid Assistance and Referral Line, call 1-888-688-4222, or visit the website for more information.

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