Plan Is The Result Of A Months-Long Citizen And Stakeholder Engagement Process
PHOENIX – Governor Doug Ducey today, in conjunction with legislative leaders of both parties, released the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, a comprehensive and bipartisan legislative package aimed at combating the opioid epidemic and saving lives. The legislation, a result of collaboration between medical professionals, law enforcement, community leaders, chronic pain sufferers, pharmacists, substance abuse treatment experts, elected officials of both parties and more, takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid epidemic through areas like expanding treatment, improving enforcement and oversight, preventing addiction, and reversing overdoses.
“This legislation combats the opioid epidemic from all angles,” said Governor Ducey. “It holds bad actors accountable and gets more resources to our medical professionals, law enforcement, and treatment providers, while showing compassion to those struggling with addiction and protecting those suffering from chronic pain. I am pleased to see the bipartisan support for these important initiatives, and thank everyone at the Legislature and all the stakeholders and partners involved for coming together on these solutions. We must act with urgency, and I look forward to working with members of the Legislature to pass this legislation.”
“I look forward to working with Governor Ducey and my colleagues at the Legislature in addressing the opioid crisis,” said Senate President Steve Yarbrough. “This merits our undivided attention to ensure that we pass a comprehensive package that curtails out-of-control prescribing activity and gives focus to treatment and prevention. Far too many people have suffered the consequences of addiction. It’s important to act expediently.”
“This is an important first step in addressing the devastating opioid epidemic in Arizona,” said Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs. “We’re pleased that Governor Ducey incorporated many of our ideas into this legislation, especially the commitment of real dollars to provide treatment for those who are opioid addicted but don’t qualify for AHCCCS or private insurance. We won’t win this battle with one bill, so it’s critical that we build upon this over time to break the systemic causes of addiction.”
“I’m pleased that Governor Ducey and legislators from both parties have come together to ensure Arizonans get the tools they need to combat our opioid epidemic,” said Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard. “The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act will get the urgent consideration it needs in the Legislature, and I’m confident it will receive broad support in the process.”
“There is no explicitly Republican or Democratic solution to a crisis like this, so we appreciate the opportunity to help shape a plan that will save lives in all of the communities we represent,” said House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios. “We all recognize that more work will need to be done once the bill has passed, but this shows that when we work together the result is good policy that benefits all Arizonans. Because the Governor included Democrats early on, we were able to bring the incredible in-depth healthcare policy experience that exists among our members and staff to the table to help ensure this plan has a real and immediate impact.”
The introduction of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act follows a months-long effort to engage stakeholders and members of the public, including approximately 50 meetings held throughout Arizona. Using this input and after conducting a 50-state review of opioid-related policies, the Arizona Department of Health Services issued an Opioid Action Plan in September 2017, which included recommendations to reduce opioid misuse, promote safe prescribing and dispensing, and improve access to treatment. Those recommendations inform many of the proposals contained in today’s legislative package.
Specific policy proposals include:
- Identifying gaps in and improving access to treatment, including for uninsured or underinsured Arizonans, with a new $10 million investment;
- Expanding access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone for law enforcement or corrections officers currently not authorized to administer it;
- Holding bad actors accountable by ending pill mills, increasing oversight mechanisms, and enacting criminal penalties for manufacturers who defraud the public about their products;
- Enhancing continuing medical education for all professions that prescribe or dispense opioids;
- Enacting a Good Samaritan law to allow people to call 911 for a potential opioid overdose;
- Cracking down on forged prescriptions by requiring e-prescribing;
- Requiring all pharmacists to check the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program prior to dispensing an opioid or benzodiazepine;
- And limiting the first-fill of an opioid prescription to five days for all opioid naïve patients and limiting dosage levels to align with federal prescribing guidelines. These proposals contain important exemptions to protect chronic pain suffers, cancer, trauma or burn patients, hospice or end-of-life patients, and those receiving medication assisted treatment for substance use disorder.