Gov. Brian Sandoval said on Monday Nevada is the nation’s leader in the battle to control the opioid abuse crisis but the battle is far from won.
“We lose a Nevadan every day to this disease,” he said. “It’s horrible, it’s tragic, it’s heart breaking.”
But Sandoval told the reconvened Opioid Task Force at the Capitol the state has taken major steps on the road to eradicating the problem.
Kyra Morgan and Julia Peek of the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health told task force members and an audience of more than 50 the national rate for opioid prescriptions is 66.5 pills per 100 people. Nevada, according to Morgan, has a rate of 87.5 pills per 100 people.
The areas where the most opioid pills are prescribed are Mineral and Nye counties, she said. There, the rate is about 158 pills per 100 people.
She also told the task force the people getting these prescriptions are “disproportionately white,” and between the ages of 45 and 64.
Elyse Monroy, a policy analyst in the governor’s office, and Nevada’s Chief Medical Officer John DiMuro said Nevada is the national leader in part because the 2017 Legislature passed the governor’s Controlled Substances Abuse Prevention Act.
That law, which takes effect January 1, requires providers to report overdoses and suspected ODs to the public health agency, requires those who can prescribe opioids to register with the state. It requires an initial assessment before a patient can be prescribed opioids, mandates an evidence based diagnosis of the patient after 30 days, after 90 days and after a year. Those exams require a full diagnosis of the patient.
It also requires much more reporting by physicians, nurses, physician’s assistants and mandates reporting by veterinarians as well to keep an eye on who’s prescribing what and how much.
DiMuro said the goal of the law and regulations was to ensure they don’t “handcuff” the physician.
“This allows prescribers to practice medicine,” he said.
That new law also greatly increases the availability of Naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose within minutes.
To get all these efforts going, Sandoval said the state has now collected more than $9 million in grants from the federal government.
Sandoval told the task force there will be more meetings in the future as the computerized prescription tracking and other elements of the anti-opioid addiction programs roll out.