In New Front Against Opioid Epidemic, Formal Statewide Health Emergency Declaration Comes To A Close; Fight Against Crisis Just Beginning

News Release

May 29, 2018

Governor Ducey: “This fight is far from over, and we aren’t going to let up”

 PHOENIX — With the Opioid Action Plan now enshrined in state law, Governor Doug Ducey today ended the formal emergency public health declaration he issued last year and declared that Arizona’s commitment to addressing the opioid epidemic remains unwavering.

Today we enter a new front in this important effort. We’ve made some important and needed changes to state law that allow us to make this update in our fight, but make no mistake, this is not a moment to declare victory —  far from it,” said Governor Ducey. “The opioid epidemic is one of the most significant public health and safety emergencies our nation and the state of Arizona has faced in a generation — and we continue to lose too many Arizonans to it. Together, we’ve taken serious actions to address this epidemic by implementing comprehensive legislation that holds bad actors accountable, improves prescribing practices, ensures patient safety, enhances emergency responses and increases access to treatment. We know this fight is far from over, and we aren’t going to let up.”

“The emergency declaration helped us to immediately implement several public health strategies such as real-time data reporting as well as trainings for law enforcement and first responders on the use of naloxone, a lifesaving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. “Over the course of the last year, we’ve worked with partners statewide to develop new tools that will have a lasting impact on reducing opioid overdoses and deaths. Even though we’ve completed all of the directed activities and the emergency declaration has been terminated, we know our work is just beginning. The fight against the opioid epidemic will continue to be one of our top priorities.”

On June 5, 2017, Governor Ducey signed an emergency declaration to address the growing number of opioid deaths in the state giving the state the ability to coordinate public health efforts between state, local, and private sectors. This initiated a collaborative process between the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), law enforcement, hospitals and medical professionals, addiction specialists and other community stakeholders to fight this crisis head-on. The declaration and enhanced surveillance advisory allowed for the collection of real-time data on opioid overdoses, deaths, cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome, and naloxone administered in the field. In addition to data collection, the declaration also directed ADHS to complete specific activities.

As of this month, all of the action items directed in the public health emergency declaration have been completed:

  • The new reporting and information-sharing procedures are now codified in policy and rule.
  • Almost 1,000 law enforcement officers statewide have been trained to provide naloxone.
  • Healthcare institutions, such as hospitals and outpatient treatment centers, now have rules for opioid prescribing and treatment.
  • The Arizona Opioid Prescribing Guidelines have been updated and distributed.
  • The comprehensive Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act went into effect on April 26th.  
  • And, the 12 recommendations of the Opioid Action Plan will be fully implemented by the end of June.

Tomorrow, May 30, Governor Ducey and Dr. Christ will provide testimony at the House of Representatives Homeland Security Border And Maritime Security Subcommittee Field Hearing titled “An Unsecure Border And The Opioid Crisis: The Urgent Need For Action To Save Lives.”

During the hearing, they will highlight the many ways Arizona is combating the opioid epidemic - including partnerships across the state like the Border Strike Force, which has proven success in preventing opioids from traveling the border. For more information on the hearing and to view a live stream, click HERE.

Read more about the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act HERE.
Read the official end of the emergency declaration HERE.