Amid what some experts are calling epidemic levels of opioid abuse in New England, researchers at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management have joined forces with several state governors to search for a solution. 

The Heller School was originally selected in 2010 by the Department of Justice as the home of an initiative to reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion, called the prescription drug monitoring program Center for Excellence. 

A training and technical assistance grant from the Bureau of Justice at the DOJ helped the center begin its work according to a March 29, 2010 BrandeisNOW article. 

The purpose of the center was originally to “develop an informational clearinghouse and help to identify best practices in prescription monitoring, while serving as a forum to exchange ideas and foster partnerships that increase PMP effectiveness,” the article explained.  

On June 17 of this year, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick visited the University along with Governors Lincoln Chafee, D-R.I.; Maggie Hassan, D–N.H.; Peter Shumlin, D–Vt. and Dannel P. Malloy, D-Conn. The governors’ visit was coupled with Patrick’s announcement of a partnership between the officials and two Brandeis staff members—senior scientist at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy and Principal Investigator at the Center for Excellence Peter Kreiner and the Director of the Center of Excellence John Eadie—according to a June 17 BrandeisNOW article. 

The collaboration between the Center for Excellence and the governors has warranted national media attention, and is a relationship that, as a June 18 New York Times article explained, will be expanding. Further collaborative efforts look to include Maine Governor Paul LePage. 

The researchers at Brandeis showed the governors maps indicating that areas with high levels of prescription drug abuse frequently showed high levels of heroin abuse after three years, the New York Times reported. The center will continue to aid the governors in analyzing data for their states.