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New Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act To Expand Treatment and Prevention Options

PHOENIX-February 12- In a Special Session of the Legislature, members of the Arizona House and Senate Legislature unanimously passed the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, which Governor Ducey signed into law on January 26, 2018.

The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act provides funding for treatment, improves oversight and enforcement tools, and extends life-saving resources to law enforcement, first responders, and community partners on the ground.

As the leading payer for substance abuse treatment in the state, AHCCCS will administer $10 million in new grant funding to ensure that uninsured or underinsured Arizonans have increased access to increased treatment resources. Between June 2017 and January 2018, 812 Arizonans died from suspected opioid overdoses. The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act is a statewide, “all hands on deck” approach to combat what has become a public health emergency in our state.

Provisions in the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act include the following (which are effective as of April 26, 2018, unless otherwise specified):

  • A five-day limit on the first fill of an opioid prescription (with some exceptions, including for infants being weaned off opioids at the time of hospital discharge).
  • A dosage limit of less than 90 MME (morphine milligram equivalent) for new opioid prescriptions, with some exceptions.
  • Regulatory oversight by the Arizona Department of Health Services on pain management clinics to ensure that opioid prescriptions are provided only when necessary and to prevent patients from receiving multiple prescriptions. This provision also includes enforcement mechanisms.
  • A “Good Samaritan” law to encourage people to call 9-1-1 in an overdose situation.
  • Three hours of education on the risks associated with opioids for all professions that prescribe them.
  • A requirement that opioid prescriptions must be issued electronically, with a delayed effective date (1/1/19 for urban providers and 7/1/19 for rural providers).
  • A red prescription container cap to alert the health consumer that opioids have risks.
  • Directs counties and cities to require structured sober living homes to develop policies and procedures that allow individuals to continue receiving medication-assisted treatment while living in the home.
  • Each county must designate at least one location where citizens can drop off legal or illegal drugs and receive a referral to a substance use treatment facility.

Read the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act bill text and the policy primer.

For more information please contact the Gila County Health Department

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