ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona lobbyist explains efforts to regulate doctors in opioid epidemic

Jun 19, 2019, 9:50 AM | Updated: Jun 20, 2019, 7:30 am

PHOENIX — Two Arizonans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In 2017, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an emergency declaration to begin combating the crisis.

Since then, the state has passed several laws to help prevent opioid addiction and aid those already struggling with opioid dependency.

Pete Wertheim has been on the forefront of this legislative battle.

He is the executive director of the Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association. He’s effectively worked as a lobbyist to regulate and support the role physicians play in the opioid epidemic.

According to AZDHS, 431 million opioid pills were prescribed in 2016 — enough for every Arizonan to have a two-week supply.

That’s why Wertheim said they introduced legislation to limit the prescriptions.

“I think the limit on initial fills of 5 days for opioid-naive patients, patients who have not received an opioid in the previous 60 days, has really helped change quite a bit,” he said.

Wertheim said the Opioid Epidemic Act also expanded existing services, created more provisions for physicians and developed good Samaritan laws to help those currently suffering from addiction.

The state even developed the nation’s first 24-hour opioid assistance referral line.

Wertheim said that because of this, opioid prescriptions in the state are down by 21%. However, opioid overdoses and deaths continue to rise.

“A lot of that activity has moved to the streets,” he said. “So we need to continue to focus the interventions in the medical settings, but we really need to look at the culture of addiction.”

Wertheim said that’s where other agencies and entities, like law enforcement, begin to play a role.

He said one of the most effective ways Arizona has combated this crisis is by distributing the life-saving opioid reversal drug Naloxone.

Wertheim said the city distributed nearly 50,000 Naloxone kits to first responders and about 13,000 of them have been administered.

He said that one of the most prominent ways Arizona has begun to change the course of the opioid epidemic is by changing the stigma.

“We’ve really changed the narrative around addiction,” he said. “These people are not the evil outliers out there. Compassion is really what we’re seeing and this is really what we need to end this epidemic.”

Tune in to KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes Show each day this week at 10 a.m. for special coverage of Arizona’s opioid epidemic.

To reach the Arizona Opioid Assistance and Referral Line, call 1-888-688-4222, or visit the website for more information.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Fiery crash over the weekend leaves 3 dead, 2 injured in Phoenix

Three people were killed after their vehicle caught fire when it was rear-ended by a vehicle with two men inside on Saturday night in Phoenix.
13 hours ago
Rain in the West Valley, via Arizona Department of Transportation Traffic Camera...
KTAR.com

Weekend storm sets new daily rain record in Phoenix

Recent storms passing across the Valley set new rainfall records at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Saturday.
13 hours ago
An American bald eagle flies over Mill Pond on July 29, 2018 in Centerport, New York.  (Photo by Br...
Alex Weiner

Arizona Game and Fish takes measures to avoid disturbing bald eagles during breeding season

Bald eagle mating season is here, and wildlife officials in Arizona are warning recreationists and pilots to avoid disturbing breeding areas. 
13 hours ago
(Federal American Grill Photo)...
Brandon Brown/Phoenix Business Journal

Houston restaurant to open first Arizona location in Scottsdale

Federal American Grill, a restaurant concept based in Houston, will open its first Arizona location in Scottsdale in the coming weeks.
13 hours ago
FILE - A flu vaccine is readied at the L.A. Care and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plans...
Associated Press

Flu season worsens as 44 states report high activity

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. flu season keeps getting worse. Health officials said Friday that 7.5% of outpatient medical visits last week were due to flu-like illnesses. That’s as high as the peak of the 2017-18 flu season and higher than any season since. The annual winter flu season usually doesn’t get going until […]
2 days ago
(Photo by David Inderlied/Getty Images)...
KTAR.com

Repeat sex offender sentenced to 20 years in Arizona prison

An Arizona man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for class three dangerous felonies and will be registered as a sex offender after release.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Arizona lobbyist explains efforts to regulate doctors in opioid epidemic