Donovan’s stat on opiate addiction ‘not accurate’

MONTPELIER — Democratic candidate for state attorney general TJ Donovan dropped a shocking statistic during a radio interview last week.

As Donovan discussed the problem of prescription drug abuse in Vermont — a centerpiece of his primary campaign — he told Vermont Public Radio listeners: “One in seven babies born at Rutland Regional Medical Center are born opiate addicted.”

That is far from correct, say health officials.

“That’s not accurate,” said Dr. Daniel Foley, the chief of the obstetrics and gynecology department at RRMC. “That would be really something.”

The Vermont Department of Health also says it has no data that suggest anything close to a 14 percent opiate addiction rate among newborns in Rutland.

Instead, the most recent Health Department data suggest a less than 1 percent addiction rate for newborns at Rutland Regional Medical Center, which is lower than the statewide average.

This is not the first time the one-in-seven statistic Donovan used has emerged in the last year, and it’s not the first time data used to support what politicians from across the political spectrum call an epidemic of prescription drug abuse have been questioned.

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