labWe continue to make steady progress in addressing the statewide opioid epidemic. Last week we expanded blood screening at the State Public Health Lab, announced a $505,104 grant award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and issued emergency rules for licensed healthcare facilities.

The State Public Health Lab is now screening blood samples from suspected overdose cases for opioids and other medications using a toxicology test panel. Testing results will provide additional surveillance data on what specific drugs are involved in overdoses in Arizona. The data we are collecting is a critical tool in addressing the opioid epidemic in Arizona.  It allows us to evaluate populations that are most at risk for overdoses so we can work with our partners to develop life-saving interventions.

The new funding is a supplement to the $3.6 million CDC Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States Grant awarded to ADHS in September 2015.  The funding is being used to implement the strategies in the Arizona Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Initiative. This additional funding will allow us to expand community and statewide interventions aimed at preventing prescription drug overdose and abuse.

The emergency rules require licensed healthcare institutions to implement policies and procedures for prescribing, ordering, and administering opioids as part of patient treatment. The emergency rules also include specific processes related to opioids in a healthcare institution’s quality management program, which is critical to improving patient care. Additionally, licensed healthcare institutions are required to notify the Department of the death of a patient from an opioid overdose. Today we launched a series of webinars to help our partners implement the emergency rules.

Go online to our opioid website at to read the latest information about the response, to learn about upcoming training opportunites, and to view the real time data we are collecting.