Arizona Governor Doug Ducey releases policy primer on opioid epidemic

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey published a policy primer that highlights the progress of the state’s efforts to “curb addictions, expand access to treatment, and save lives” today.

Ducey declared a statewide emergency in June 2017, after data was released showing a 74 percent increase in opioid overdoses over four years. 


Image: Arizona Office of the Governor


The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, which is based on an action plan formerly issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services, passed unanimously through the Legislature during a special session in January 2018. Following the act’s passage, Ducey ended the emergency declaration.

The action plan and act have approached the issue from multiple angles, including launching a dedicated government website, requiring doctors to use a prescription drug database before prescribing controlled substances, limiting daily dosages for opioid prescriptions, and establishing a review team to investigate all drug overdose deaths in the state.

“Collectively the state invests $265 million annually in substance abuse treatment and Prevention,” according to the act.

Today, the Governor’s primer highlighted stats marking progress, including:

  • A 296 percent increase in the number of Naloxone doses dispensed by pharmacies since September 2017 — Naloxone counteracts opioids and can prevent overdose deaths;
  • A “37 percent increase in the percent of providers who are checking the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program, compared to July 2017;”
  • A 36 percent decrease in the number of opioid prescriptions since 2016;
  • And a 78 percent decrease in the number of new patients given prescriptions with dosages over the newly established limit, compared to 2016.

Parts of the plan are still rolling out; by January 2019, prescribers in the six largest Arizona counties will be required to submit prescriptions for Schedule II opioids to pharmacies electronically — the same requirements will apply to all Arizona counties by July 2019.

“There’s more to be done, and Arizona will continue to work to combat the opioid epidemic and save more lives,” Ducey said in his statement.