While speaking about the opioid epidemic during an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton brought up Jessica Grubb, the young West Virginia woman whose addiction story made an impact on President Barack Obama.
“It really knows no boundaries,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell of opioid addiction before mentioning Grubb’s story.
Grubb was in recovery when President Obama traveled to West Virginia last fall to address the crisis. He met her parents, whose story moved him deeply, he later said privately.
In March, about four months after the president’s visit, Jessica Grubb died. She was the victim of a medical error.
“There was no message in her hospital record that she was a recovering addict so on discharge, the discharging physician — who had not treated her — gave her 50 Oxycontin pills,” Clinton said.
HuffPost’s Sam Stein and Ryan Grim reported earlier:
Like the opioid epidemic itself, Grubb’s death was complicated. With the president and countless strangers pulling for her, she was let down by a treatment system that resists evidence-based practices and by a medical community that still hasn’t figured out how to incorporate substance-use disorders into treatment mandates.
“Everybody has seen that she died, and most people assume that well, it must’ve been a heroin overdose,” Grubb said. “But it wasn’t. That wasn’t what happened.”
While the cause of death was, in fact, an overdose, it wasn’t heroin. After unrelated surgery, Grubb was prescribed 50 pills of oxycodone, a powerful opioid pain medication. She was discharged from the hospital with an IV port in her arm that makes it easier to pump medications into a blood vessel. She never had a chance.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who served with her father David Grubb in the state Senate, has since introduced legislation he calls “Jessie’s Law,” trying to make sure nobody else is accidentally prescribed opioid without a physician knowing about addiction history.
Clinton called the opioid epidemic “a problem we have made.”
“Out of a desire to help people cope with pain, we have been much too open and easy in providing painkillers,” she said.
Her parents have since set up a memorial fund. Upon learning of her death, Obama wrote the Grubbs a personal note.
Watch more of Clinton’s remarks on the opioid crisis above.
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