Long Term Treatment Continues to be Need In Delaware’s Struggle Against Opioid Crisis

Contact: Julia Lawes – 302-577-8901

 

Long Term Treatment Continues To Be Need In Delaware’s Struggle Against Opioid Crisis

 

With opioid overdoses and deaths continuing to increase, Attorney General Matt Denn on Wednesday released the Delaware Department of Justice’s fourth annual report on the state’s efforts to combat the epidemic and made recommendations for next steps.

 

“In the face of compelling evidence that the state’s opioid epidemic persists, the state has made some progress over the past four years in addressing the epidemic, but has not significantly expanded treatment for Delawareans with substance use disorder,” the report states.

 

The report details and heralds progress since 2015, including:

 

  • statutory reform requiring admission to treatment facilities
  • expanded prosecution efforts of drug rings
  • legislation providing legal assistance for prematurely terminated insurance coverage
  • state funding for first responders’ use of naloxone
  • state funding for assistance to individuals with substance use disorder in finding immediate treatment
  • the announced creation of “START Centers” that will provide initial medication assisted treatment to patients
  • $3 million in one-time funds in the current budget for programs recommended by the Behavioral Health Consortium
  • DOJ’s civil lawsuit against manufacturers, distributors and retailers of opioids

“A few years ago we were saving very few people.  That’s not the case anymore,” said Chief Kenneth McLaughlin of the Ocean View Police Department, who participated in the report’s release. “While the process has been slow, resources are being mobilized at the local, state, and federal level to address substance abuse.  While much more needs to be done, especially when it comes to prevention and demand reduction and the availability of long-term treatment, Delaware is making progress.”

The report states “there remain just over 200 treatment beds (none of them for long term residential treatment) to help over 11,000 Delawareans believed to be struggling with substance use disorder.”  Recommendations from the report include:

 

Expansion of sober living facilities: Increases in state funding for sober living options, and an increase in the reimbursement rate for sober living facilities would likely increase “an economically efficient way for the state to provide stable, supervised living environments for individuals who do not need the level of care associated with an inpatient residential treatment facility.”

 

Expansion of inpatient residential drug treatment:  “The absence of long-term residential treatment is overwhelmingly the top complaint that DOJ hears from front-line treatment professionals, individuals seeking to address their own drug addictions, and families of those seeking treatment” and a DOJ recommendation to the Governor and General Assembly to use economic development funds to incentivize opening of new facilities was not adopted.

 

Recovery high school program: This initiative is for “high schools designed specifically for students in recovery from substance use disorder….The Red Clay School District has offered to make a building available for the operation of a recovery high school program in Delaware.” But it requires state operating funding.

 

Prevention and alternative to opioids: “The state’s Addiction Action Committee made a detailed proposal to the General Assembly for implementing such a plan, which included the elimination of private and public insurance barriers for physical therapy and chiropractic treatment, and a pilot state program to determine the short-term cost for the elimination of barriers to other treatments such as massage, acupuncture, and yoga.” However the legislation was altered before passage to eliminate much of the expanded treatment. DOJ recommends that the General Assembly enact the Addiction Action Committee’s original proposal.  Additionally, DOJ recommends that patients receiving outpatient prescriptions of opioid drugs be informed of risks and alternatives and asked for their informed consent when they receive their first prescription for such drugs.

 

Opioid impact fee: The report recommends that the General Assembly enact legislation creating an opioid impact fee, to be imposed on the manufacturers of opioid drugs in order to help remedy the harm those drugs have caused in Delaware.

 

“I want to be clear that as a state, Delaware has been very progressive and has instituted many first in the nation programs and laws. But, we also know that Delaware’s addiction and overdose death problem continues to escalate,” said David Humes, board member of the atTAcK Addiction advocacy organization. “We are in agreement with the Attorney General’s report that there are items that still need attention. Our opinion is that a recovery high school program for young people in recovery needs to be instituted. It can be done with a relatively small amount of funding.”

 

The full report can be found at https://attorneygeneral.delaware.gov/2018-doj-opioid-report/

 


24 Locations in Delaware to Participate in Drug Take-Back Day, April 28, 2018

DOVER — Delaware will hold its 16th Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 28, 2018, to help reduce the risk of prescription medications being diverted for misuse. Delawareans can discard their expired or unused medications at 24 locations statewide between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Organized nationally, by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and locally, by the Division of Public Health (DPH), the twice-a-year event has resulted in 76,474 pounds of medication being collected in 15 events since 2010. Properly discarding unused medications is an important ongoing event in the effort to address the nationwide opioid epidemic. Doing so reduces the risk of addiction by keeping prescription medications out of the hands of people who may misuse, abuse, or sell them, and helps reduce the risk of drug overdoses. Proper disposal also protects our groundwater from medications being flushed down the toilet.

“I am grateful to the citizens across our state who take seriously their responsibility to rid their homes of expired, unwanted or unnecessary medications,” Governor John Carney said. “To reduce the toll that addiction is having on our state, we are combining education and prevention efforts like the Drug Take-Back Day efforts, with strong law enforcement and control measures, and an expanding treatment and recovery system.”

“Unwanted, expired or unused prescription medications are often an unintended catalyst for addiction,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Participating in Drug Take-Back Days provides the average person a concrete way they can make a difference in the ongoing opioid epidemic our state is facing. By taking the important step of cleaning out medicine cabinets, you can make your home safe from potential prescription drug abuse or theft.”

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. Additionally, national studies show that almost two-thirds of people who misuse prescription drugs get them from friends and family, including by raiding medicine cabinets, purses and drawers. DPH reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 293 people died in Delaware from drug overdoses in 2016, compared to 214 in 2015.

In addition to the 24 sites participating in Drug Take-Back Day activities, there are 21 permanent medicine drop-off locations across the state available year-round. Six of Delaware’s permanent drop-off sites are in Walgreens pharmacies and the other 15 are located in local law enforcement agencies.

Delawareans seeking help for drug addiction, medical providers seeking information on patient education and treatment resources, or individuals searching for information about naloxone training classes and how to use the medicine, can visit www.HelpIsHereDE.com. The website, Delaware’s one-stop-shopping resource for information about education, prevention and treatment options for addiction, also features short testimonial videos from Delawareans in long-term recovery, parents who lost adult children to overdoses, and others.

On Drug Take-Back Day, drugs for disposal must be in a container such as a pill bottle, box, blister pack, or zipped plastic bag, with personal information removed. Liquid medications must be in their original containers. Needles, aerosols, biohazard materials, medical equipment and batteries will not be accepted.
For more details and a list of permanent collection sites, visit DPH at dhss.delaware.gov/dph/hsp/hhdrugtakeback.html or call 302-744-4546, ext. 4.
Delaware’s Drug Take-Back Day sites for April 28, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. are

New Castle County

  • Christiana Care Surgical Center, 4755 Ogletown Stanton Road, Newark
  • Delaware City Police Department, 407 Clinton St., Delaware City
  • Delaware State Police Troop 2, 100 La Grange Ave., Newark
  • Middletown Police Department, 130 Hampden Road, Middletown
  • New Castle County Airport, 151 N. DuPont Highway, New Castle
  • New Castle County Police Department, 3601 N. DuPont Highway (permanent collection site)
  • Shipley Manor Nursing Home, 2723 Shipley Road, Wilmington
  • Wilmington VA Medical Center, 1601 Kirkwood Highway, Wilmington

Kent County

  • Atlantic Apothecary, 103. S. Dupont Blvd., Suite 2, Smyrna
  • Camden Police Department, 1783 Friends Way, Camden (permanent collection site)
  • Cheswold Police Department, 691 Main St., Cheswold
  • Delaware State Police Troop 3, 3759 S. State St.
  • Felton Police Department, 24 E. Sewell St., Felton (permanent collection site)
  • Milford Police Department, 400 NE Front St., Milford (permanent collection site)

Sussex County

  • City of Lewes Board of Public Works, 129 Schley Ave., Lewes
  • Dagsboro Police Department, 33134 Main St., Dagsboro
  • Delaware State Police Troop 7, 18006 Coastal Highway, Lewes
  • Laurel Police Department, 205 Mechanic St., Laurel (permanent collection site)
  • Milton Police Department, 101 Federal St., Milton
  • Ocean View Police Department, 201 Central Ave., Ocean View, (permanent collection site)
  • CVS Pharmacy, 36252 Lighthouse Road, Selbyville
  • Lewes Ferry Terminal, 43 Cape Henlopen Road, Lewes
  • Rehoboth Police Department, 229 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach
  • Selbyville Town Hall, 68 W. Church St., Selbyville (permanent collection site)

For further information on addiction recognition, prevention and treatment, visit www.helpisherede.com.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Public Health and CVS Health Make Overdose-Reversal Drug Available Without Prescription at DE CVS Pharmacies

Two boxes of Naloxone above the Help Is Here signDOVER — The Delaware Division of Public Health and CVS Health announced today that the opioid overdose-reversal medication naloxone is now available without an individual prescription at all of the 20 CVS Pharmacy locations in Delaware, including those located inside Target stores. CVS pharmacists will be able to dispense naloxone to patients without an individual prescription under a statewide standing order issued by the Division of Public Health (DPH).

“By making naloxone available to the public without a prescription, CVS Health has taken an important step in helping us combat the opioid epidemic here in Delaware,” said Governor John Carney. “Naloxone can give people a second chance to get medical care and be connected to resources to treat their addiction. We greatly appreciate their partnership.”

“Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by expanding access to this medication in our pharmacies in Delaware we can help save lives,” said Tom Davis, RPh, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Services at CVS Pharmacy. “CVS Health is dedicated to helping the communities we serve address and prevent prescription drug abuse and we are expanding access to naloxone to give more people a chance to get the help they need for recovery.”

In July, Governor Carney signed Senate Bill 48, which expanded community access to naloxone by ensuring pharmacists had the same legal protections as doctors, peace officers and good Samaritans. Pharmacists can now dispense the medicine responsibly without potential legal, criminal, or disciplinary actions due to injuries or death sustained in connection with dispensing the drug. Naloxone will be available at the pharmacy counter in participating pharmacies to anyone who is educated on its appropriate use and signs an acknowledgement form. DPH hopes that this measure, in combination with a revised standing order allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone nasal spray, will increase access for those concerned about someone at risk of an overdose.

“Our first priority is to save lives, and expanding access to this overdose-reversing medication through local pharmacies gives more people in the community the opportunity to help us do that,” said Dr. Rattay. “We see no signs of the opioid epidemic slowing and we need all the tools at our disposal to turn the tide.”

Overdose deaths in Delaware climbed from 172 in 2012 to 228 in 2015, and then jumped to 308 deaths in 2016. There have been approximately 190 suspected drug overdose deaths to date in 2017. First responders administered the life-saving medication naloxone more than 1,535 times in 2016 and 1,280 times in the first half of 2017.

“Addiction is a chronic disease,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). “As we expand access, we also need to connect Delawareans suffering from addiction to comprehensive and person-centered treatment services so they can begin their recovery.”

For more information about how to access naloxone at the pharmacy and to receive training on how to use it, visit HelpisHereDE.com/Get-Help/Overdose-Response. HelpIsHere.com is DHSS’ one-stop clearinghouse website for information on prevention, treatment and recovery resources in Delaware, and learning about the signs of addiction.

Within three to five minutes after administration, naloxone can counteract the life-threatening respiratory depression of an opioid-related overdose and stabilize a person’s breathing, which buys time for emergency medical help to arrive. DPH recommends calling 9-1-1 immediately if you find someone in the midst of a suspected overdose, starting rescue breathing, and then administering naloxone. Naloxone is not a replacement for emergency medical care and seeking immediate help and follow-up care is still vital.

“ ‘If we had a 911 Good Samaritan law or Narcan law, your son might very well be alive today.’ Those were the words of the detective investigating my son, Greg’s, accidental heroin overdose,” said David Humes, board member of atTAcK addiction. “I’ve lived with those words every day for over five years. With naloxone now being made available over-the-counter, other loved ones won’t have to live with those words. Greater access to naloxone means more lives will be saved. More people will get a second chance.”

For a list of permanent drug collection sites to safely dispose of unused prescription medication, visit permanent collection sites, visit DPH at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/hsp/hhdrugtakeback.html.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Delaware Opioid Prescription Rates Falling Seven Months After New Regulations Enacted

DOVER, DE –The number of prescriptions written in Delaware for opioid pain medications has fallen since the enactment of new prescribing regulations by the Department of State earlier this year.

Statistics from the Division of Professional Regulation, which licenses controlled substance prescribers, show a 12-percent drop in opioid prescriptions statewide compared to the first quarter of 2017. The number of Delaware patients being treated with opioid medications has also declined by 8 percent over the same time period, the division reports.

“Limiting the availability of prescribed opioids that end up being diverted, sold and illegally abused is an important part our fight to stem the tide of opioid addiction in Delaware,” said Gov. John Carney. “Opioid prescription rates remain too high in Delaware, but this is an issue we will continue to address in a comprehensive way.”

The new regulations, which took effect April 1, were designed to help prescribers more closely monitor and control the use of opioids by their patients.

“A significant reduction in the number of pills being prescribed means a better chance that fewer end up on the street,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “Just as important, fewer people being prescribed opioids is a sign that medical professionals in Delaware may be changing their prescribing practices and relying less heavily on highly addictive opioids when better alternatives exist. Seven months into our new regulatory framework for opioids, we are seeing the results we had hoped for.”

Key elements of the new regulations are aimed at controlling the amount of opioids given to new patients and aggressively monitoring their treatment. First-time opioid prescriptions may not exceed a one week supply under the new rules. If further opioid prescriptions are deemed necessary, further action is required, including a physical exam with discussion of relevant patient history and the risks of opioids, and a check of the statewide Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) database. In addition, the state’s new PMP Advisory Committee has begun the process of analyzing the practices of individual prescribers to ensure that they are following state laws and licensing standards.

“Although these are early results, they are encouraging,” said Attorney General Matt Denn. “The Secretary of State and the Division of Professional Regulation deserve a lot of credit for putting these new regulations into effect – they placed Delaware in the top tier of states nationally with respect to requiring the responsible prescription of opioids.”

The regulatory reforms complement efforts organized across state government and in cooperation with Delaware’s community of public health organizations and anti-addiction advocates.

“Each overdose death in our state represents a life lost. Gone are the hopes and dreams of someone’s child, brother or sister. We know that reducing the amount of opioids being prescribed is crucial toward saving lives and a key step in combatting the addiction epidemic,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long.

The newly established Behavioral Health Consortium, created this year by the General Assembly and chaired by Lt. Gov. Hall-Long, is working to develop an action plan that will prevent and treat substance use disorder, expand and improve mental health treatment and recovery and provide support for family members of loved ones who are battling addiction or coping with mental health issues.

The state’s Addiction Action Committee, also created by the General Assembly this year, is actively considering two other initiatives relating to the prescription of opioid drugs: possible legislation requiring health insurance coverage of alternatives to opioids for pain management, and possible state responses to the co-prescription of opioids and benzodiazapenes.

“We are grateful to the Division of Professional Regulation for enacting these new regulations,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of the state’s Division of Public Health. “The bottom line is that precious lives will be saved by fewer people becoming addicted or having access to these dangerous drugs. We must continue our efforts to support safe opioid prescribing while ensuring individuals have access to alternative and more effective approaches to pain management.”

The Department of Health and Social Services also has boosted resources to help individuals struggling with addiction. Educational materials about identifying and fighting addiction can be found at HelpIsHereDE.com. Individuals who are suffering from addiction can also call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Hotline to be connected to treatment options. In New Castle County, call 800-652-2929, or Kent and Sussex Counties, call 800-345-6785.


Delaware Department of Justice Retains National Legal Team to Pursue Potential Claims Against Opioid Industry

Attorney General Matt Denn announced Wednesday that the Delaware Department of Justice has retained a national group of attorneys and experts to investigate and, if appropriate, file suit against opioid manufacturers, opioid distributors, and other entities that may have contributed to the opioid epidemic impacting Delaware.

“The goal is very simple,” Attorney General Denn said. “We will make sure that any entities responsible under Delaware law for creating this crisis help us solve it, and that they stop any practices still going on that are contributing to this crisis.”

The lead law firm retained by Delaware, Fields PLLC, has already filed national litigation against the opioid industry on behalf of the Cherokee Nation. The other firms working with Fields are Gilbert LLP, Connolly Gallagher LLP, and Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway. The team includes both Delaware attorneys and attorneys with subject matter expertise from around the country, including former Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. Former Deputy Assistant DEA Administrator Joseph Rannazzisi, who led the DEA’s Diversion Control Division and recently focused national attention on Congressional action to water down federal drug interdiction laws, will serve as a consulting member of the team

“Deaths from opioids have escalated dramatically over the past twenty years and become the public health crisis of the 21st Century,” said David Humes, board member of Delaware advocacy group atTAcK Addiction. “Should the investigation show evidence of wrongdoing, these firms must be held accountable and penalized for those deaths, the devastation they have caused families and provide treatment to those still in the throes of addiction.”

The selection of the law firms took place pursuant to a publicly-posted Request for Proposals, which prompted fourteen responses. The retained law firms, which were selected by a committee that included DOJ attorneys and a representative from the Department of Health and Social Services, will bear the expense of the investigation and litigation and will be compensated from any eventual recovery that the state may receive.

“I appreciate the hard work that the selection committee did in finding such an experienced and talented team to pursue these claims against the opioid industry,” Attorney General Denn said. “This will give us an ideal combination: the ability to act quickly and decisively as an independent state, along with the legal expertise and investigative resources necessary to pursue a matter of this magnitude involving companies with enormous resources.”

Under the retention agreement with the law firms, the Delaware Department of Justice will retain decision-making authority over all facets of the investigation and any litigation, including decisions about filing and settling lawsuits.