Governor Ducey signs legislation combating opioid epidemic

PHOENIX – Governor Doug Ducey has signed The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, the first bill to become law in 2018, following a four-day Special Session and unanimous passage in the House and Senate. The legislation takes aggressive steps to address opioid addiction, hold bad actors accountable, expand access to treatment, and provide life-saving resources to first responders, law enforcement, and community partners.

“We began this week by coming together and recognizing the need to address the Opioid Epidemic,” said Governor Ducey. “Today, we’ve done just that. I am proud to have signed the most comprehensive and thoughtful package any state has passed to address this crisis to date. Without the tireless efforts of legislative leadership and legislators from both parties, this rare achievement could not happen, and I thank everyone who has worked to get us here today.”

Specific policy initiatives in the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act include:

  • Identifying gaps in and improving access to treatment, including for uninsured or underinsured Arizonans, with a new $10 million investment;
  • Expanding access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone for law enforcement or corrections officers currently not authorized to administer it;
  • Holding bad actors accountable by ending pill mills, increasing oversight mechanisms, and enacting criminal penalties for manufacturers who defraud the public about their products;
  • Enhancing continuing medical education for all professions that prescribe or dispense opioids;
  • Enacting a Good Samaritan law to allow people to call 911 for a potential opioid overdose;
  • Cracking down on forged prescriptions by requiring e-prescribing;
  • Requiring all pharmacists to check the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program prior to dispensing an opioid or benzodiazepine;
  • And limiting the first-fill of an opioid prescription to five days for all opioid naïve patients and limiting dosage levels to align with federal prescribing guidelines. These proposals contain important exemptions to protect chronic pain suffers, cancer, trauma or burn patients, hospice or end-of-life patients, and those receiving medication assisted treatment for substance use disorder.