In 2016, Mohave County had more opioid prescriptions than people.The vast rural county in northwest Arizona dispensed 127.5 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents that year, making it Arizona’s most prolific county by that measure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC data shows that Arizona’s rate of 70.2 opioid prescriptions per 100 people is slightly above the U.S. average of 66.5 per 100 people.
“We have known if for quite a few years,” Rusty Cooper, deputy chief of the Kingman Police Department, said of the prevalence of opioids in the community. That is one reason why the Kingman Police Department was the first Arizona law-enforcement agency to train and equip patrol officers with overdose-reversal drug naloxone.
Cooper said officers have reversed five overdoses since the department began to train and supply officers with naloxone in August 2016.
Read the story in The Arizona Republic
Colorado’s Pueblo County is likely to join Huerfano County and others nationally including New York City and South Dakota tribes that are suing the major pharmaceutical companies for damages, arguing the over-prescribing of opioid prescription drugs contributed to the thousands of heroin overdose deaths and other damages from that drug.
Commissioner Terry Hart said late last week:
Unless someone can show us strong reasons not to participate, I think we probably will take action and file suit. We have ample evidence in our county of the damage and harm that’s come from overdose deaths and other costs caused by the use of heroin and fentanyl.
Hart said commissioners expect to host a meeting with lawyers from the Colorado Attorney General’s office this month to hear whether the state will join, as well. A dozen states — including California, Kentucky and Ohio — are suing major drug makers. Read more in The Pueblo Chieftain
Tool to stop opioid overdose deaths is being issued to first responders.
Town of Evans Police officer Grant Yount is quoted:
We could see the gentleman in the driver’s seat of his car, his head was tilted back, he was foaming from his nose and his mouth. My partner broke the window, we got in the car. You can see there were indicators of drug use, meth pipes and methamphetamine in the car.
There were needles in the car too — a sign of heroin use.
Based on their experience, the man was overdosing. Once, they would have waited for paramedics to save him. But Evans police officers now carry the overdose reversal drug naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan.
Narcan’s website explains how the drug works: It’s a prescription medicine used for the treatment of an opioid emergency, like an overdose, with signs of “breathing problems and severe sleepiness or not being able to respond.” The site says Narcan should be “given right away and does not take the place of emergency medical care.”
Officer Yount’s story is becoming more common, thanks to a program called Naloxone for Life. It aims to get overdose drugs into the hands of police statewide. Since it was launched less than two years ago, officers have saved at least 320 people from an overdose death.
Each kit costs $75. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s office spent half a million dollars on the kits, using money from legal settlements with pharmaceutical companies.
Read more at Colorado Public Radio