- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 19, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Federal prosecutors say more than 40 people looking to craft a strategy to address opiate abuse and heroin overdoses have organized groups to develop community action plans.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce White Vance says those interested in addressing opiate formed working groups Tuesday focusing on public awareness, the medical community, research and police, law enforcement partnership and access to resources.

Vance says part of the focus of the meeting was to form a strategy to respond to a recent rise in heroin overdose deaths in north Alabama and across the country. Vance says law enforcement and prosecutors focusing on street dealers and suppliers isn’t enough to solve the problem.

Jefferson County Health Officer Mark Wilson says the increase in overdoses is a public health crisis.

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