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Opioids Have Killed at Least 460,000 Americans

October 25, 2019

Opioids have killed at least 460,000 Americans over the last 20 years. That’s approaching the death toll of World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

It is a priority of the Utah Attorney General’s Office to combat the opioid crisis in Utah. The AG’s Office has joined states across the nation in multiple lawsuits against some of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies, such as Purdue Pharmaceuticals – a company that additionally faces hundreds of lawsuits by other government entities. There are many more ongoing investigations regarding the company’s primary impact on the opioid crisis.

That’s not all.  There are many more lawsuits filed against pharmaceutical companies from other states, cities, counties, and Native American tribes. Below is an excerpt from the Deseret News article, Opioids killed at least 460,000 Americans, Now the manufacturers face a reckoning, detailing the process.

While settlements and rumors of cash awards circulate, the sheer volume of lawsuits and proposals and different governments involved — including states and cities and Native American tribes — means any final award tally is very much up in the air.

Lawsuits may be negotiated separately, then there’s a process for determining who gets what and that’s bound to be complicated, with formulas that consider many different factors. Those factors include how big a state’s population is and how severe the problem has been in each one, income levels and more, said Richard Piatt, spokesman for Utah’s Attorney General’s Office. It amounts to a lot of moving pieces — and the process can move quite slowly.

Nor is all the help coming from lawsuits. The Trump administration announced in September $1.8 billion in grants to help states and local governments combat the opioid epidemic, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Utah’s share is $24 million.

Opioids Killed at least 460,000 Americans. Now the manufacturers face a reckoning.
By Lois M. Collins, Deseret News

The opioid crisis affects people of every age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. The Utah Attorney General’s Office urges everyone to safely, and appropriately dispose of unused and expired medications in your home to help combat the opioid crisis. Tomorrow is Utah Take Back Day from 10 AM to 2 PM across the state. Find the disposal box closest to you at utahtakeback.org.

In addition, Walgreens houses medication disposal boxes in their stores. Riverton City recently launched a new medication disposal program that integrated large, blue disposal boxes containing NarcX, a solution that dissolves and destroys opioid medications.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, make sure you keep a Naloxone kit on hand – you will save a life.

A Look at the Utah Town Hall on Opioids

May 7, 2019

Recently the Utah Attorney General’s office had the opportunity to join Utah DEA and Utah Naloxone for an Opioid Town Hall, hosted by former Fox News host Eric Bolling.

Part of Addicted Utah, an ongoing series by KUTV, the town hall included Assistant AG Scott Reed, Utah Naloxone co-founder Dr. Jennifer Plumb, DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser, and was moderated by 2News anchor, Jim Spiewak.

The town hall featured stories of former addicts, addressed the increase in opioid and non-fatal drug overdoses and the danger of Benzo’s, as well as impact on veterans, how to recognize an overdose, and steps being taken to combat the opioid epidemic in Utah.

“This is an unprecedented time for all of us. We need more than ever to work together – a concerted effort to understand and to defeat the problem as a community.”

Utah Assistant Attorney General Scott Reed

You can watch Town Hall Your Voice, Your Future – Opioids: A National Crisis below.

For more information on the effect of opioids in Utah, visit KUTV’s Addicted Utah series.

Utah opioid overdose deaths are down, thanks to Utah Naloxone

Part of the Utah Opioid Task Force, co-chaired by Attorney General Sean D. Reyes along with U.S. Senator Mike Lee and DEA District Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser, Utah Naloxone is a game-changer in the fight against opioids in the State of Utah. The Utah Attorney General’s office is proud of the work Utah Naloxone co-founder, Dr. Jennifer Plumb, has accomplished and is privileged to partner with her and her organization as we address the opioid epidemic in our great state.

For Immediate Release

UTAH NALOXONE REACHES MAJOR MILESTONE

SALT LAKE CITY – More than 3,000 people in Utah have a second chance at life thanks to the efforts of Utah Naloxone. All of these individuals were given the medication naloxone (Narcan) during an opioid overdose by a non-medical layperson around them. Naloxone reverses an opioid overdose if given in time, causing the effects of the opioid to reverse and bringing them back. Opioids include pain pills, heroin, and fentanyl.

All of these life-saving doses were administered by non-medical members of our community who obtained rescue kits from Utah Naloxone or one of its Overdose Outreach Provider partners just for this purpose. The recent reports bringing us to this milestone came from our partners at One Voice
Recovery (OVR) who work across the state of Utah to educate on substance use disorder, work to decrease stigma, as well as to reduce infectious disease transmission and overdose deaths. These direct community partners are a major contributor to saving lives across Utah.

The number of lives saved by naloxone has been attributed as a large part of why Utah is seeing a decline in the number of opioid deaths. We were one of only seven states in 2017 where the death rate is going down. And as the number of people who are surviving an opioid overdose and making it to an emergency room for care is rising – almost doubling from 2015 to 2017 (1.5/10,000 in 2015 to 2.8/10,000 in 2017). People are saving lives and giving people a chance to survive to make it to an ER which alters outcomes for our state.

There is still work to be done. Overdose is still the leading cause of injury death in the state, and Utah still is among states with a high rate of overdose deaths. If you or someone you know is taking opioids you should have Naloxone on hand in case of an overdose. Naloxone kits are available through Utah Naloxone. It is legal to possess the drug, and legal to administer it if you suspect someone is overdosing on opioids. For more information go to UtahNaloxone.org.

CONTACTS:
Jennifer Plumb, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Utah Naloxone
801-232-5410 801-696-1139
UtahNaloxone@gmail.com

Patrick Rezac
Executive Director, One Voice Recovery
801-696-1139
OneVoiceRecovery@gmail.com


Yesterday, Utah Attorney General’s office Special Agents and staff were trained on how to administer Naloxone in the field by Dr. Jennifer Plumb. Check out the photos below:

A Fighting Chance at Redemption: Uintah County Sheriff, Utah Naloxone Launch New Program

February 22, 2019

In a first for the State of Utah, the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office partnered with Utah Naloxone and the Utah Opioid Task Force to launch an experimental program to supply Naloxone rescue kits to inmates upon release, and to their close support network.

Listen in here.

As you might guess, this population is highly at-risk of an overdose. The goal is to make tools available to save more lives and give people a fighting chance at redemption.

This new access program is a result of the combined efforts of people in medicine, public health, law enforcement, criminal justice, and the hundreds of thousands of family members who have either lost someone or are at risk of losing someone to an overdose.

An Innovative Solution

Studies have shown that within the first two weeks of an inmate’s release from incarceration, inmates are 40 times more likely to die of an overdose. The Uintah County Sheriff’s Office, the Utah Opioid Task Force, and Utah Naloxone recognized the importance of supplying this vulnerable population and worked out an innovative solution. If this proves successful, other law enforcement agencies may follow suit.

“This will save lives. I guarantee you. This will save lives that we would have reached no other way,” said Dr. Jennifer Plumb with Utah Naloxone.

While Naloxone kits are already accessible to the public, most people are either unaware or feel uncomfortable purchasing a kit. As of November 1st, 2018, Utah’s Naloxone access program has saved 2608 lives.

Dr. Plumb stressed the importance of educating and equipping the support network of those at-risk of overdose. In some instances, it may take police officers and first responders too long to arrive on the scene in order to administer Naloxone or perform life-saving measures. Educating and supplying family members and friends with Naloxone rescue kits saves lives by allowing a friend or family member to administer the medication, beginning the reversal process quickly, and allowing more time for first responders to arrive.

Lives are irreplaceable. In 2017, 73,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses.

To their credit, the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office understands the importance of finding strategies that work. “We need to get as many kits as we can into as many hands as we can. Just because you’re currently dealing with addiction, doesn’t mean you’re not worth saving,” said Uintah County Sheriff Steve Labrum.

Increasing Saturation

The need to educate and supply people with Naloxone rescue kits is not reserved to inmates and those close to them. Brian Besser of the Utah DEA urged the importance of saturation and educating everyone.

“We have to make our churches, our schools, our government entities, our faith-based institutions, parents, every person walking on the sidewalk needs to be aware of the efficacy of not only this program but the drug itself,” said Besser.

One in six kits are used to save a life. If 500 kits were dispersed, approximately 100 lives could be saved.

“Prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover every day, but you can only recover if you’re alive. Too many people are overdosing. Naloxone simply saves lives,” said Brent Kelsey with the DSAMH.

Ease-of-Use

The Naloxone rescue kits are easy-to-use and cost-effective, coming to approximately $15 a vial and $30 for a whole kit. The kits are injectable, featuring large needles designed to inject into a muscle, similar to a flu shot. Although kits on the market feature other methods of inoculation, such as intranasal, the injectable kits are much more cost effective.

Kit Locations & Contact

If you need a Naloxone rescue kit, please contact Utah Naloxone.

Utah Naloxone

Phone: 385-495-9050

Website: www.utahnaloxone.org

Salt Lake County libraries also offer Naloxone kits without questions asked or names taken. Pharmacies and physicians often carry kits and can supply them without a prescription.

The AG’s Office invites you to tune in, obtain a Naloxone Rescue Kit, and help us give those who struggle a fighting chance to reclaim and rebuild their lives.

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