Donating to Fight Opiate Drug Abuse and Misuse in Life and Beyond

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Dr. Ward Donovan has dedicated his life to medical toxicology – researching it, educating others on the dangers of prescription drugs and toxins and, of course, treating those who have encountered serious issues with these substances. Now he is making sure his work in this field extends beyond his living years.

Recently, Dr. Donovan, Chief of Medical Toxicology of the PinnacleHealth System in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, endowed a $100,000 life insurance policy to the MTF with very specific instructions – that it be used to start the Fund for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention in Memory of Ryan Donovan, and that money donated to it be channeled to stem the over-prescribing by doctors and the public misuse of opiate drugs. Dr. Donovan’s son, Ryan, died in September 2007 of an accidental drug overdose of a prescription opiate he bought from a friend. He was 28 years old.

“The leading cause of accidental deaths in young adults is drug overdoses, whether accidental, abuse or misuse,” said Dr. Donovan, who is also Professor Emeritus of Emergency Medicine at Pennsylvania State University. “And right now the fastest growing cause of drug related deaths is the abuse and misuse of opiates. It is an epidemic.”

Though the funds bequeathed from his life insurance policy are for the future, his hope is that this unique gift to MTF works as seed money to inspire donations from those wishing to fight the same fight. “My goal is to encourage others to invest in this fund so that we can have a national impact in the education of physicians while also stemming the public misuse of opiate drugs,” Dr. Donovan explained. “The fund is now established and I hope that someday there will be a large amount in it. This money is to allow the fund to begin to do some work. If we wait until this life insurance policy is redeemed, little can be done with this fund.”

Already Dr. Donovan has established a legacy for exceptional work in the field of medical toxicology. He credits the academic and scientific challenges of the field in addition to the need for practitioners in this area as the founding reasons for his pursuit of this specialty. Considered one of the early leaders of medical toxicology, Dr. Donovan is also past president of the ACMT. Now his pursuits in this field are more personal and more urgent.

“I want to halt the easy access to opiates by the general public,” he said. “Already there are some courses being held for physicians. That’s probably the most effective way to advance this education. The MTF does an outstanding job providing funding for those in the field of medical toxicology to learn more, do more and help more.”

If you would like to make a donation to the Fund for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention in Memory of Ryan Donovan, please click here.