Baker Institute expert available to discuss House bills aimed at fighting opioid epidemic


Jeff Falk

Baker Institute expert available to discuss House bills aimed at fighting opioid epidemic

HOUSTON — (June 12, 2018) — The House of Representatives is set to vote on more than two dozen bills aimed at fighting the opioid crisis, including policy changes to educate pharmacists, coordinate a national response and empower the federal government to create a program to test alternative treatments.

Credit: University

If it becomes law, the legislation will improve data collection on efforts to combat the epidemic and have an impact on best practices for drug treatment providers and steps to accelerate research on non-opioid pain-management alternatives, according to a drug policy expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Katharine Neill Harris, the Alfred C. Glassell III Fellow in Drug Policy at the institute, is available to discuss the bills and related issues with media.

“I think caution is in order when legislating restrictions on how doctors and pharmacists dispense medication,” Neill Harris said. “These are decisions that need to be left to medical experts. There is increasing evidence that efforts to limit opioid prescriptions are having a negative impact on chronic-pain patients who rely on these medications.”

Other steps Neill Harris would like to see taken that are related to the legislation under consideration are increased research on the efficacy of medical cannabis as an alternative pain management therapy and improved coordination in emergency rooms to get people to drug treatment. “When a person comes to the ER for an overdose, this is an opportunity to put that person in contact with drug treatment services,” Neill Harris said. “Part of this should be offering them medication-assisted treatment on-site to help reduce opioid cravings and put them in contact with drug treatment resources.”


The Baker Institute has a radio and television studio available for media who want to schedule an interview with Neill Harris. For more information, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.

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Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top three university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog,

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.