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Important and Time Sensitive: The Legislature’s Special Session on Opioids

Posted By Michael F. Hamant, Friday, January 19, 2018


As the largest organization in our state representing the interests of all physicians, the Arizona Medical Association (ArMA) has been an engaged participant in stakeholder meetings regarding the opioid abuse epidemic since our community began working on addressing it. This started with the initial opioid prescribing guidelines produced by Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) in 2014.

We have ensured that your voice was heard. In 2017 alone, between ArMA staff and leadership physicians, we attended weekly meetings of the stakeholder community. Throughout the process, we have repeatedly engaged our physician members as leaders, subject matter experts, clinicians, and patient advocates to help inform our Governor, legislators and regulatory entities as they have pursued various measures and strategies to decrease opioid prescribing, opioid abuse, and subsequent addictions to opiates of all forms.

And as physicians, we have self-regulated and made changes to our clinical decisions. We have decreased opioid prescribing since 2010, and since enhanced surveillance began in Arizona last June, opioid prescribing has continued to decline.

It’s not enough. Since last June 15, there have been 5,202 suspected opioid overdoses reported – 812 of which were fatal. About 40% of people who had a suspected overdose (between June 15 and December 31) had nine or more prescriptions for opioids filled during 2017. And 35% of people who had a suspected opioid overdose were prescribed opioids by 10 or more providers.

ArMA has solicited our member input all along as we have worked with stakeholders on their executive decisions, legislation, and regulatory measures. In the last five months alone, we have shared information and opportunities for feedback with you on the Prescription Monitoring Program requirements, emergency rule-making, the ADHS Opioid Action Plan, and the updated Opioid Prescribing Guidelines.

Next week will launch the start of a concurrent special session on opioids at the Arizona Legislature. We are preparing to review the proposed legislation, and once again, we need to hear from you. The legislation will likely include the proposals outlined in the Governor’s policy primer released today, for which we have provided a summary here

Your input is vital in representing the voice of medicine in Arizona!

We ask at this time that all our members take the time to review the proposals’ summary, and either reply via email to sharla@azmed.or or by posting in the comments feature below:

  • What proposed solutions have the potential to improve patient care and treatment?
  • What proposed solutions could have potential negative impact on patients?
  • What other solutions might be considered?
  • What other suggestions or considerations do you have?

The input provided throughout this process will inform the position we take on the final legislation once it is available. This weekend, we will hold a special emergency meeting of the ArMA Committee on Legislative & Governmental Affairs, where your comments and input will be a vital part of the review process for taking a position on this legislation.

Please submit your comments NOW.



Michael Hamant, MD

President, ArMA

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