Oklahoma Rep. Cyndi Munson (D-District 85) hosted a study Tuesday to look into the public health risks presented by Loperamide when used to relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms.
The drug found in over-the-counter medications like Imodium A-D is sometimes used by people suffering from opioid withdrawal. Still, the quantities in which it is needed to provide any relief are so high it can cause severe, sometimes fatal side effects.
“I was completely unfamiliar until a constituent whose family member died due to misuse of Loperamide,” Munson said. “The opioid epidemic has created multiple side-effects that we are going to have to deal with as lawmakers and as a society. Loperamide misuse may seem small compared to other epidemic side effects, but it is costing lives. This study took a look at this problem and solutions to fix it.”
Munson’s constituent Joel Hild lost his son to Loperamide misuse and brought the issue to her attention.
“When the medical examiner told us Loperamide was the only drug in his system, I was shocked,” Hild said. “Through my research since my son died, I understand that this drug does have a need. I’m not here to get rid of it. I just want it to be treated similarly as Sudafed.”
Munson said the lack of statewide or national tracking of Loperamide misuse has created a problem in determining exactly how many deaths due to overdosing on the drug occur.
“The big takeaway from this study for me is that there is a desire by everyone, including manufacturers of Loperamide, to increase education and possibly even controls to help prevent someone from misusing this drug,” Munson said. “I want to thank all of the stakeholders involved in today’s study, and I look forward to working with each of them to continue making progress on this issue.”