CoBank Contributes $500,000 for Opioid Abuse Prevention Research and Education

Grant to University of Colorado’s Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention will fund physician education and other prevention programs

DENVER (June 06, 2019) — CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, today announced it is donating $500,000 to the University of Colorado’s Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention to address the ongoing public health issue of opioid and prescription drug abuse through research and education.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, opioids contributed to more than two thirds of all drug overdose deaths in the United States – more than 47,000 people in 2017. In addition, opioids also constitute a substantial majority of non-fatal hospitalizations and emergency room visits related to drug poisoning. In rural communities, mortality and hospitalization rates related to opioid abuse are often as high as they are in urban and suburban areas, according to CDC data.

“Opioid addiction is a debilitating public health problem that has impacted rural communities across the United States,” said Thomas Halverson, president and chief executive officer at CoBank. “The CDC has reported that rates of drug overdose deaths in rural communities have surpassed those in urban areas since 2006 and that increase has been largely attributed to the abuse of opioids and other prescription drugs. Our board of directors believes strongly that CoBank should be doing its part to address this issue, and has unanimously approved this contribution. We look forward to partnering with the University of Colorado to advance our common understanding of how opioid addiction can be prevented.”

Established in 2017, the Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention operates within the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at CU Anschutz Medical Campus. The center builds upon the work of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, providing a coordinated response to the opioid epidemic in the state of Colorado. CoBank’s contribution will support the overall work of the center with a particular focus on the creation of educational materials and programs specifically designed for physicians and other medical providers.

“Over-prescription of opioid medications is one of the root causes of today’s crisis,” said Dr. Robert Valuck, director of the Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and professor of pharmacy at the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Well-meaning clinicians have prescribed billions of tablets in an effort to relieve their patients’ pain. The problem is that ‘leftover’ drugs are making their way from the medicine cabinet to family members, friends, and are sometimes diverted to the street. Research has also shown that abuse of prescription opioids can lead to the abuse of other drugs. Nearly nine in 10 users of illegal narcotics report that their drug use started out with opioid pain medications.”

“Medical professionals are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic,” continued Valuck. “We believe that physician education plays a key role in helping to prevent the misuse of opioids and other prescription drugs and, ultimately, will help to reduce rates of dependency and death. Developing effective materials and programs is an important part of our work at the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention & Research and we are grateful to CoBank for its support of this vital effort.”

The educational materials and programs developed by the Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention will be piloted throughout the state of Colorado. Ultimately, the partners hope to create replicable programs with the potential for measurable, positive impact on this issue, regardless of geographic location.

The Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention (CPDAP) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus was established to serve as a national model for prevention, intervention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery from substance use disorders (SUDs). The initial focus of the Center is on Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) but it will also focus on other substance use disorders, particularly those involving prescribed medications. The vision for the Center is to be a national leader in research, education, clinical practice transformation, and community engagement, bringing these core emphases to bear on the full continuum of substance abuse prevention, with specific expertise in issues relating to prescribed medications.

About CoBank

CoBank is a $138 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving more than 70,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country.

CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture, rural infrastructure and rural communities. Headquartered outside Denver, Colorado, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and also maintains an international representative office in Singapore.

Media Contacts

Julie Davis
Corporate Communications

Leslie Hagele
Corporate Social Responsibility

Dave Harding
Knowledge Exchange