Arizona DHS to Submit Opioid Recommendations

The Arizona Department of Health Services' deadline is Sept. 5 to submit its findings and recommendations to Gov. Doug Ducey on curbing the opioid epidemic.

The Arizona Department of Health Services' deadline is Sept. 5 to submit its findings and recommendations to Gov. Doug Ducey on curbing the opioid epidemic. Ducey's executive order declaring a public health emergency included a requirement for the department to provide the report; the emergency declaration will officially come to an end when the governor accepts the report.

Dr. Care Christ, the department's director, provided an update on the ADHS blog Aug. 29. To develop the recommendations, ADHS sought the advice of people who have participated in subgroups of Governor's Goal Council 3: Reducing Opioid Deaths Breakthrough Project; the subgroups have worked since the end of June to develop ideas for reducing opioid deaths, and the groups met Aug. 23 to share draft recommendations, she wrote, adding that ADHS will include some of those recommendations in the report this week.

Real-time data being reported by through enhanced surveillance "provides some insight into how the opioid epidemic is currently unfolding in Arizona and points to possible areas of intervention," she wrote, providing these highlights from the data reported June 15 to Aug. 10:

  • The average number of opioid prescriptions dispensed each week is just over 95,000, which means an average 6.8 million opioid pills per week are being prescribed.
  • About 16 percent of people with suspected opioid overdoses occurring during the surveillance period had been hospitalized in 2016 with an opioid-related cause.
  • Of the people experiencing suspected opioid overdoses who were found to have had an opioid prescribed to them in past year, 74 percent had more than one opioid prescription.
  • Forty-two percent had a combination of opioids and benzodiazepines prescribed.
  • Fifty percent had 10 or more providers prescribe opioids to them during the past year.
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