Arizona Department of Health Services Applauds Special Session on Opioids

PHOENIX – The just-completed Arizona legislative special session to address the opioid crisis has succeeded in giving the Arizona Department of Health Services and other public health stakeholders important new tools to combat this problem.

“We began this week by coming together and recognizing the need to address the Opioid Epidemic,” said Governor Ducey. “Today we’ve done just that. I am proud to have signed the most comprehensive and thoughtful package any state has passed to address this crisis to date. Without the tireless efforts of legislative leadership and legislators from both parties, this rare achievement could not happen, and I thank everyone who has worked to get us here today.”

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act has meaningful solutions to many of the issues that contribute to the opioid crisis.

“I want to thank Governor Doug Ducey and the state legislature for taking decisive action and passing the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act,” Dr. Christ said. “Governor Ducey and lawmakers have proven their commitment to bold initiatives that can help people suffering from opioid use disorder, and this is a great encouragement to public health professionals throughout Arizona. Losing a loved one to an opioid overdose is a tragedy that far too many Arizona families experience, and I’m grateful to see specific actions taken to provide the health care and public health systems with more tools to deal with this problem.”

Among the provisions contained in the approved legislation are:

  • A five-day limit on the first filling of a prescription, to reduce the high numbers of pills being prescribed.
  • A dosage limit of less than 90 MME (morphine milligram equivalent) to mitigate the possibility of prescribing unnecessarily high doses.
  • Regulatory oversight by the Arizona Department of Health Services on pain management clinics to ensure such prescriptions are provided only when necessary and to avoid patients getting multiple prescriptions. Also includes enforcement mechanisms.
  • A “Good Samaritan” law to allow people to call 9-1-1 to report a potential opioid overdose because some people are reluctant to report an overdose victim for fear of prosecution.
  • Three hours of education on the risks associated with opioids for all professions that prescribe them.
  • A delayed effective date on electronic prescriptions to address the problem of easily-forged paper prescriptions.
  • A red prescription container cap to easily identify a prescribed opioid to reinforce the fact that opioids have risks that must be considered before taking them.

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