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Media Release: AG Reyes brings Utah opioid solutions to the White House

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2018

 

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL BRINGS STATE OPIOID SOLUTIONS TO THE WHITE HOUSE
Policymakers from 40 states and territories gather at the nation’s capitol to discuss best practices in fighting the opioids epidemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes was featured alongside federal leaders to sound an alarm and share tools for combating the opioid epidemic. The conference was hosted by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to foster collaboration and discuss best practices in addressing the opioid crisis in neighborhoods, communities, and states. Officials from over forty states, territories and tribes attended the conference.

Attorney General Reyes highlighted what Utah does right – specifically, mobilizing a diverse and talented network of professionals including legislators, state officials, federal partners, educators, religious groups, civic groups, and concerned citizens. “It takes everyone,” said Reyes.  “This is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. This is a humanitarian issue. Too many have died in Utah and in America. This is a clear and present danger. This epidemic kills people of every single background. Because of that we need everyone to work together.”

In addition to Attorney General Reyes, the panel included Jim Carroll, the Deputy Director for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health at Health and Human Services, Anne Hazlett, Assistant Secretary for Rural Development at the United States Department of Agriculture, John Martin, Assistant Administrator for Diversion at the Drug Enforcement Agency, and Andrew Bremberg, Assistant to the President & Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Scott W. Reed, Assistant Attorney General at the forefront of Utah’s opioid battle said, “One of the most important components of recovering from addiction is keeping connected to a supportive community. Likewise, today’s White House summit helps keep federal partners and federal dollars connected to the state and local folks who are in the trenches, working every day to reduce the tragic effects of the opioid crisis. We are grateful to the president and his staff for the opportunity to maintain and strengthen these connections.”

Utah Attorney General Reyes was the single state leader on the panel of federal experts chosen by the Trump Administration to discuss the comprehensive efforts taken in the fight against the opioid crisis.  Those federal efforts include the following:

1) $930 million in State Opioid Response Grants from the Office of Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support community-driven solutions.

2) First Lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” initiative, which has focused on the issues children affected by the crisis face, particularly neonatal concerns and the importance of educating parents on healthy pregnancies.

3) The Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) collaborative efforts with state, local, private sector, and non-profits agencies through the prevention program Drug Take Back Day.

4) The ONDCP, Ad Council, and Trump Administration’s partnership for the Youth Opioid Prevention Ad Campaign.

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NOTES:

1. The livestream of the public portion of the conference is archived here.

2. You can access more information on today’s conference on the Utah AG’s website here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wh-opioid-conference/

 

 

AG Reyes leads White House discussion, highlights Utah solutions at Opioids Conference

Today, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes helped lead a discussion with leaders from over forty federal, state, local, and tribal organizations, on the value of partnerships and other tools in combating the opioid crisis in America. You can read the official media release here.  Shout out to the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs staff for hosting a very informative, classy, consequential event.

Let’s save some lives.   

LIVE STREAM

Event begins at the 29-minute mark.

Here is the breakdown of comments made in the opening forum (the smaller breakout sessions afterward were not live-streamed).  One of the highlights of the discussion – in our humble opinion – was when AG Reyes highlighted the powerful Utah partnerships that make fighting the opioids crisis a winnable effort. 

Welcome and Introduction from Doug Hoelscher
Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President of the United States
Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Panel Discussion Introduction by Katie Talento
Sean Reyes, Utah Attorney General
Jim Carroll, Deputy Director for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
Anne Hazlett, Assistant Secretary for Rural Development, United States Department of Agriculture
Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health, Health and Human Services
Sean Reyes, Utah Attorney General, Follow-up comments
Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health, Follow-up comments

If you would like to get involved in the fight to free your family and community from the opioid epidemic, please contact our office


TWITTER SNAPSHOTS:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A FEW HELPFUL LINKS


In related news, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the Support for Patients and Communities Act while we were meeting today. You can read up on the bill here. Another step in the right direction.

We can win this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opioid Litigation RFP

The Attorney General’s Office issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) on Friday, June 22nd, seeking qualified law firms to submit proposals to represent the State of Utah in litigation concerning prescription opioids.  

You can access the RFP here: http://bids.sciquest.com/apps/Router/PublicEvent?CustomerOrg=StateOfUtah, or by following links on the Department of Purchasing’s website:  https://purchasing.utah.gov/.  

In either case, search for “BP18025.”  You can access the documents without registering with SciQuest, but you will need to register to submit a proposal.  At this point, all questions and communications must go through SciQuest (see section 1.5 of the RFP) unless otherwise stated in the RFP.  

This RFP will close on July 17, 2018.

The Office of the Attorney General appreciates your interest. You’ll remember that, in early May, we issued an RFI to gather information. Then at the end of May, we announced that the State of Utah had filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma in Carbon County, one of the counties hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. 

For a quick overview of this office’s work to end the opioid crisis, click here

Walgreens & Regence Utah Partner to Provide Drug Take Back Boxes

Today, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes commended the partnership of Regence Utah and Walgreens at a press conference in Bountiful as they work to fight the opioid crisis across the state. Through their collaboration and combined efforts and resources, Regence Utah and Walgreens are providing Drug Take Back boxes at Walgreens pharmacy locations in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

“Walgreens’ program has successfully answered the questions ‘Will it make a difference?’ and ‘Can it be done?’ In two years, Walgreens has been instrumental in taking back over 540,000lbs of prescriptions drugs,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Where would those drugs be if it wasn’t for these Take Back programs and kiosks?  I’ll tell you where they’d be – they would be in our medicine cabinets, at skittling parties with neighborhood high school kids, on streets getting sold, or, sadly, they would be in the medical examiner’s evidence lab marking yet another death for Utahns.”

Watch a portion of the press conference here

Regence is sponsoring 38 kiosks in our four markets, including eight in Utah. The locations in Utah are as follows:

  • Provo (1315 N State St.)
  • West Jordan (7794 S Redwood Rd.)
  • Layton (1171 W. 200 N Antelope Dr.)
  • Draper (1311 E Draper Pkwy.)
  • Bountiful (515 S 500 W)
  • Salt Lake City (531 E 400 S, and 909 E 2100 S)
  • Taylorsville (4040 W 5415 S).

Due to the joint efforts with AmeisourceBergen, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Pfizer, Prime Therapeutics, and Walgreens, an additional 900 disposal kiosks will be added at Walgreens across the country for a total footprint of about 1,500 stores, up from 600 locations today.

Regence’s Behavioral Health Medical Director Dr. Jim Polo said Regence was proud to partner with Walgreens in providing options for safe disposal. He went on, “This will take effort by everyone involved: hospitals, pharmacies, legislators, the community. It will take all of us to see a change.”

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, State Senator Todd Weiler, and State Representative Raymond Ward also expressed their support of the initiative, as well as officials from the City of Bountiful, the Salt Lake Metro Narcotics Task Force/DEA, Regence Utah, and Walgreens.

 

Utah Attorney General

AG Sean Reyes Joins Bipartisan Letter Urging PBMs to Implement Opioid Mitigation Programs

SALT LAKE CITY October 20, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes has joined with a bipartisan group of attorneys general from across the country in letters to 15 healthcare companies that provide pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services encouraging the companies to implement programs to mitigate prescription opioid abuse.

The attorneys general also sent a letter to the president and CEO of CVS Health Corporation applauding the company’s recent program that automatically enrolled all commercial, health plan, employer and Medicaid clients in an opioid abuse mitigation program.

“As Attorney General, I have seen far too much devastation to Utah families and communities from opioids. In our fight against this epidemic we have learned that all too often addiction starts with prescription medication,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. 

“I applaud pharmacies like CVS who are proactively implementing policies to lessen the likelihood of addiction by patients. We urge other companies to follow their lead. Limiting the duration and dosage of opioids, among other solutions, will likely decrease significantly the number of new addicts.

“Working with pharmacies is part of the Utah Opioid Task Force’s multi-layered approach with many stakeholders including manufacturers, prescribers, insurance companies, law enforcement & the recovery community to comprehensively address the opioid threat ravaging our nation.”

In their letters to the PBMs, the attorneys general asked that the companies adopt similar measures as CVS, including limiting to seven days the supply of opioids dispensed for certain acute prescriptions for patients who are new to the therapy, limiting the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid, and requiring the use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended-release opioids are dispensed. The CVS program’s requirements are similar to the opioid prescribing guidelines recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

The multistate PBM letters were sent to:

  • Argus Health Systems, Inc.
  • Benecard Servies LLC
  • Envision Pharmaceutical Services LLC
  • Envolve Health
  • Express Scripts, Inc.
  • Humana, Inc.
  • Magellan Rx Management
  • MedImpact Healthcare Systems, Inc.
  • Navitus Health Solutions LLC
  • OptumRX , Inc.
  • PerformRx
  • Prime Therapeutics, Inc.
  • ProCare Rx
  • RxAdvance
  • WellDyneRx

“While there are no doubt additional measures that pharmacy benefit managers could take to combat prescription opioid abuse, we believe over-prescribing of opioids could be curtailed by the implementation of a CVS-type program,” the attorneys general wrote.

“The opioid epidemic is the most pressing public health crisis our country faces,” the attorneys general wrote. “It affects every state and has a devastating impact on communities – tearing apart families and stretching the budgets of local law enforcement and first responders as they do the difficult work on the front lines. For our part, attorneys general are pooling resources and coordinating across party lines to address the crisis.”

Opioids, both prescription and illicit, are now the main driver of drug overdose deaths nationwide. According to CDC, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. The Utah Department of Health reports in Utah 23 individuals die from prescription drug overdoses every month, and from 2013-2015, Utah ranked 7th in the U.S. for drug poisoning deaths. From 2000 to 2015 Utah saw a nearly 400% increase in deaths from the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.

In addition to AG Sean Reyes, those joining one or both of today’s letters include attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Please click here to view these letters.
https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Letters-to-CVS-and-PMBs.pdf

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EDITORS NOTES:

1. Find drug overdose death data on the CDC site: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html

2. For Utah specific data on prescription drug overdoses visit: http://health.utah.gov/vipp/topics/prescription-drug-overdoses/

 

Utah Taking Back Unwanted Prescription Drugs on April 29

 

At No Cost to Utah, AG Office Provides Breakthrough Technology to Reclaim Prescription Drug Pills in an Environmentally Friendly Manner

 

SALT LAKE CITY April 28, 2017 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) encourages Utahns to participate in the Utah Take Back on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations statewide. Utahns can prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Find a take-back site at www.utahtakeback.org. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Additionally, eco-friendly reclamation bags donated at no cost to the state will be available for distribution from take-back locations.

“Prescription drug abuse, particularly for painkillers, has risen to epidemic levels nationwide, and Utah is no exception,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Prescription drugs, when administered and taken responsibly, can be a productive tool for pain management. But far too often, what begins innocently can lead to dependence and devastation.

“In addition to overprescription, unauthorized access to even properly prescribed painkillers is one of the biggest drivers toward addiction. Many users of street drugs like heroin start by abusing their own painkillers, then move to finding other people’s prescription drugs. Addicts may be soccer moms or executives. They can be our kids, grandkids, kids from the block, good students or bad students included.

“No community is immune. Addiction touches rural and urban areas, uptown or downtown neighborhoods alike. And whether we realize it or not, our medicine cabinets may be where they are looking next or where they may have already been.  By teaming up on Take Back Day with partners like the DEA, AARP, and businesses and citizens across our state, we will recover hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of prescription drugs.”

Improper disposal of unused and expired medications leads to damage of our environment. In the fight against opioid addiction, the AGO is grateful for eco-friendly reclamation bags donated at no cost to the state by private companies like Doterra and Mallinckrodt to thousands of Utah Take Back locations around the state. The bags can be filled with any pills, which they will dissolve and neutralize.  Measurable amounts of antibiotics, antidepressants, and medications have all been found in U.S. lakes and rivers. The eco-friendly, medication disposal system produced and donated for the Utah Take Back is highly effective in absorbing and firmly binding pharmaceuticals, rendering chemical compounds safe for landfills and reducing watershed contamination.

Utahns can prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Drop off unused, unneeded, and expired drugs is tomorrow, Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations statewide, in addition to year-round locations. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. For more information about the April 29th Take-Bake and to find a collection site near you, visit www.utahtakeback.org.

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