Five county health departments across the state will receive thousands of doses of the opioid overdose reversal drug next year as part of Arizona’s settlement with pharmaceutical giant Teva.
Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes in early December ordered shipments of the drug naloxone in exchange for money from Teva Pharmaceuticals, although Mayes’ office said the state would still receive millions in next 13 years as part of the agreement.
Providing the life-saving drug is one part of Mayes’ agenda to combat the worsening fentanyl crisis as he enters his second year in office. In an interview last week, Mayes said he would also form an advisory commission to help prioritize how to spend some of the $500 million from opioid settlements headed to Arizona for state use.
Mayes this month extended invitations to legislative leaders and Gov. Katie Hobbs, also a Democrat, to have voices on that commission, he said. Lawmakers must apply the settlement money to the state budget each year.
“Arizona is the fentanyl funnel for the rest of the country,” Mayes said. “Drug cartels use our state like UPS and they bring it across our border and redistribute it to other parts of the country.”
Mayes said he has asked Vice President Kamala Harris and US Drug Enforcement Administrator Anne Milgram for more federal resources to help stop drug trafficking and address the immigration crisis, which Mayes said has separated staff. from work targeting drug smugglers.
In the interim, investigations by Mayes’ office have led to the seizure of more than 16.7 million fentanyl pills this year, a spokeswoman said. That’s an increase from 6.5 million in 2022, according to Mayes’ office.
Naloxone coming to Arizona counties
The fentanyl crisis and shortages of the drug sometimes known by its brand name, Narcan, have guaranteed counties a supply of the life-saving drug instead of cash, Mayes said.
“I distribute those every four months to different organizations and entities,” Mayes said. “This first batch, which will go out in June, will go to county health departments, which are dangerously low on naloxone.”
The following counties will receive shipments, and are selected based on need and storage capabilities, according to Mayes’ office: 900 units in Yuma County; 3,000 in Pima County; 1,200 in Navajo County; 1,200 in Mohave County, and 700 in Gila County. Each unit has two doses of naloxone, both of which are often needed to prevent overdose.
In Pima County, overdoses have risen sharply in the past three years and will exceed 500 deaths this year, according to Mark Person, a Pima County Health behavioral health and substance abuse program manager. ingredient. Fentanyl is the leading cause of overdoses, Person said.
The county has distributed naloxone to nearly 200 agencies, nonprofits, businesses and community groups since 2019. In the first year, the county distributed 1,500 naloxone units, Person said. This year, they have distributed an average of 1,200 units per month, he said. Twice in the last few years the county has run out of naloxone.
The incoming shipment will act as a cushion to keep the county’s supply steady, Person said.
“What we’re doing now is like a paycheck-to-paycheck scenario,” Person said. “We get our allocation and it does the job, we have it, but it’s gone at the end of the month.”
In Yuma County, Health Department officials are working with community groups to get naloxone to schools, first responders and others who work with people in crisis.
While we know there is no single solution to this problem, getting a life-saving drug like naloxone into the hands of those in need is more of a commitment to safety, and a critical strategy in preventing future overdoses. of opioids,” Diana Gomez, the county’s. chief health officer, said in a statement. Gomez said the upcoming supply will “increase the capacity and sustainability of our naloxone distribution program by ensuring that the cost and affordability accessibility is not an obstacle.
Arizona and its county and municipal governments are expected to receive more than $1 billion from a series of legal settlements related to the opioid crisis in recent decades, in which painkiller makers and Prescription drugs have flooded the markets.
Many of those cases predate Mayes’ election to office, but he will have considerable control over how the money is spent within guidelines set in a spending agreement. County leaders are also planning how to prioritize the hundreds of millions that will make up their share settlement funds over the next 18 years, but few have detailed plans and some are wary of misdirecting the money as happened with tobacco settlements in the 1990s.
Teva in June reached a final settlement to settle the lawsuits. That agreement included the state providing 9.6 million naloxone kits and paying more than $4 billion. Arizona will also get more than $85 million in cash over 13 years, according to Mayes’ office.
Reach reporter Stacey Barchenger email@example.com or 480-416-5669.
Air plans:Arizona counties are getting opioid settlements, but are still deciding how to spend them
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