Opioid Action Plan
In 2016, more than two Arizonans died each day due to opioid-related causes, with a tripling in the number of deaths due to heroin since 2012. On June 5, 2017, Governor Doug Ducey issued his first public health emergency declaration, which called for a statewide effort to reduce opioid deaths in Arizona. An Enhanced Surveillance Advisory following the declaration resulted in 280 suspected opioid deaths and 2,361 suspected overdoses reported since June 15th.
The public health emergency declaration directed the Arizona Department of Health Services to submit a report of the accomplished activities and identify recommendations for combating the opioid epidemic in Arizona. This report, in response to the emergency declaration, is intended to be an action plan that will serve as a catalyst to reducing deaths from opioids in Arizona.
Naloxone, known as Narcan®, is a drug to treat the effects of opioids and can save the life of someone overdosing on opioids. The also allows the State to track how many times naloxone has been dispensed by a pharmacist or given to someone who may be suffering from an opioid overdose.
New Standing Orders Issued with Pediatric Dosing for Naloxone
On November 7, 2018, Dr. Cara Christ, Director of Arizona Department of Health Services, issued standing orders for naloxone. The standing order includes pediatric dosing for children over 5 years old, to enable schools to purchase naloxone.
Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist—meaning that it binds to opioid receptors and can reverse and block the effects of other opioids. It can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.
Click here to download Standing Orders for Naloxone.
What is the difference between naloxone administration and dispensing?
Naloxone dispensing is when a pharmacist provides a package and/or “kit” of naloxone/Narcan® to someone for them to have and keep for their use in an emergency (or in case a friend or family members needs it). Pharmacists may also dispense naloxone to certain community-based organizations so that the organizations can then provide the kits to people who may need them. ADHS’s standing order allows pharmacists to dispense naloxone to any individual in Arizona.
How is naloxone adminstered?
Depending on the packaging, naloxone/Narcan® can be administered in one of three ways:
- Via a mist sprayed into a person's nose;
- Via an injection directly into a person’s muscle usually in the top of their upper thigh or in the muscular portion of their upper arm or shoulder;
- Via a needle that has been placed into a person’s vein, usually on the inside of their arm.
The first two methods (#1 and #2) are the most common for the out-of-hospital setting. ADHS’s standing order allows any individual to purchase naloxone/Narcan® from any pharmacy in Arizona. It is important to read and follow the instructions provided with the naloxone so that you know how to use it. The third method (#3) is for certified/licensed healthcare professionals.
Who needs naloxone immediately accessible to them??
Ideally, naloxone should be immediately accessible to family members and friends of people at risk of opioid overdose, first-responders to opioid overdose patients, and medical providers.
Where is naloxone available?
Patients can receive naloxone prescriptions through their medical providers. Patients and members of the public can now purchase naloxone from any pharmacy without a prescription (see the standing order for naloxone). There are also substance abuse treatment organizations that distribute naloxone.
Who can administer naloxone?
Under A.R.S. § 36-2267, any person may administer an opioid antagonist, like naloxone, to a person who is experiencing an opioid-related overdose. The statute further states, "A person who does this in good faith and without compensation is not liable for any civil or other damages as the result of the act.”