County of Marin - News Releases - RxSafe Marin Forum

For Immediate Release
April 04, 2018

Forum Focused on Treating Pain Without Opioids

RxSafe Marin luncheon April 12 in San Rafael is free and open to all

San Rafael, CA – Now that the opioid crisis is getting more national attention, Marin’s grassroots initiative called RxSafe Marin is convening experts for a community forum to talk about healthy options for managing pain on April 12.

Badge pins that say RxSafe Marin on them.RxSafe Marin is a grassroots community initiative started in 2014 that counts several County of Marin departments among its stakeholders.
The four-year-old RxSafe Marin has open and sometimes heart-wrenching public discussions in its pledge to eliminate overdose deaths. Collectively, the RxSafe Marin movement – which includes Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), community members and other organizations sees every overdose death as preventable and has implemented strategies to save lives.

“The opioid epidemic we’re facing is partly due to how we’ve approached pain. Fortunately, we’re learning that there are healthier and more effective alternatives to opioids. We need to get that word out.” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer.

This time, the topic is understanding pain, navigating local options and support systems, and non-opioid approaches to pain management. Three local experts are speaking at the April 12 event at the Marin County Office of Education, 1111 Las Gallinas Avenue, San Rafael. They are Dr. Ramana Naidu of Marin General Hospital, Dr. Babak Ettekal of Marin Community Clinics and Dr. Kevin Cheng of Kaiser Permanente. They will be joined by Dr. Matt Willis, a co-founder of RxSafe Marin.

Drug overdose remain the leading cause of accidental death in Marin. Two years ago, Marin doctors committed to adhere to a new set of common standards for prescribing painkillers. Since then the county has seen a significant decline in opioid prescriptions, with a 30 percent reduction from 2014-2016. Overdose death rates also declined 27 percent during this interval.

RxSafe Marin has been at the forefront of making naloxone, a medication that reverses an opioid overdose, more available countywide. Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids during an overdose and restores breathing. Public safety workers and the friends and family members of those at risk for overdose are being encouraged to carry naloxone. 

RxSafe Marin hosts forums on key topics related to prescription drug misuse and abuse on a quarterly basis. The group has been building on the work of community activists, Marin HHS, the Marin County District Attorney’s Office, the Marin County Public Defender’s Office, Marin County Office of Education and many other community stakeholders. One of the first such coalitions in the state, the effort recently received awards for innovation from the California Department of Health and Human Services, the California State Association of Counties, and the County of Marin.  

The free event on April 12 includes lunch. The doors open at 10:30 a.m. and the event gets underway at 11 a.m. Online RSVP is preferred, as seating is limited.

Community feedback on the issue is always welcomed at or 415-473-6731.


Dr. Matthew Willis
Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Matthew Willis
Marin HHS website