Governor Ducey, Dr. Cara Christ Respond To Opioid Declaration

News Release

October 26, 2017

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ today released the following statements after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency:

“Far too many families across Arizona and the country know the pain of losing a loved one to opioid abuse,” said Governor Ducey. “Combating this crisis requires collaboration on all fronts – from local and county officials, to states, and the federal government. I applaud President Trump's efforts today and look forward to working with the administration to save more lives and put an end to this epidemic.”

“The opioid epidemic is a national crisis — addressing it requires an all-hands-on deck approach, and we applaud this declaration," said Dr. Christ. "After Governor Doug Ducey declared a health emergency in June, our partners in the health care professions, law enforcement and other state agencies have worked diligently to learn more about this epidemic and identify solutions. Already we’re seeing life-saving measures being implemented in Arizona to prevent and treat opioid use disorder.

"Since the Governor’s declaration, ADHS has trained 1,100 first responders to carry and administer naloxone and provided almost 5,000 naloxone kits to law enforcement agencies to help reverse overdoses. The agency has strengthened the rules for licensed health care facilities and enhancements are being made to both Arizona’s Opioid Prescribing Guidelines and the Opioid Action Plan.”

On June 5, Governor Ducey declared a statewide emergency following new data from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) that showed an alarming 74% increase in opioid overdoses since 2013. The data also showed that 740 Arizonans died from opioid overdoses in 2016 – more than two per day.

Following an executive order issued on June 13 requiring enhanced data reporting of opioid overdoses, ADHS in September released its Opioid Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy that includes twelve recommendations to reduce illicit acquisition and diversion of opioids, promote safe prescribing and dispensing, and improve access to treatment.

Other actions taken by Governor Ducey to combat opioid addiction include:

  • Issuing an executive order to limit the first fill of opioid prescriptions to 7 days when the state is the payer;
  • Signing legislation to end “doctor shopping,” where individuals attempt to obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors at once;
  • Establishing a pilot program allowing inmates to be treated with the opioid-blocking drug Vivitrol before leaving prison in order to help their transition be successful;
  • Signing legislation that allows the overdose reversal drug Naloxone to be distributed to certain individuals without a prescription;
  • Partnering with Walgreens to implement safe medication-disposal bins in 18 Walgreens stores across the state;
  • Establishing The Substance Abuse Task Force charged with proposing solutions to address and reverse drug addiction trends;
  • And signing legislation to establish a Drug Overdose Review Team to investigate every drug overdose death in Arizona.