There is an opioid crisis in Michigan and emergency rules have been extended to get the medication naloxone to help save the lives of those addicted.
From 1999 to 2016, the total number of overdose deaths involving any type of opioid increased more than 17 times in Michigan, from 99 to 1,689, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Data from the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) reported 11.4 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2015 were written, about 115 opioid prescriptions per 100 people, the department says.
From 1999-2015 more than 8,900 people have died from an opioid overdose with more than 50 percent of those deaths occurring since 2010. In 2016 alone, 2,335 people died of drug overdoses – more deaths than in car accidents, according to the department.
To help deal with the crisis, the state has extended emergency rules that increased access to the life-saving medication naloxone in Michigan, according to Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.
Naloxone reverses opioid overdoses to people at risk of an overdose. Just under half the state’s pharmacies with controlled substance licenses have registered under the emergency rule to receive pre-authorization to dispense the medication.
“During the first three months of the naloxone standing order, pharmacies dispensed 1,290 orders of naloxone that all had the potential to save a life,” Calley says.
Extending these emergency rules will help ensure Michiganders maintain access to this life-saving drug until permanent rules are finalized.
Registered pharmacies can dispense naloxone under a standing order signed by Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, without a prescription from an individual’s physician.
In May, Gov. Snyder requested emergency rules from the state’s Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) that allowed naloxone to be distributed under the standing order. These rules were necessary to rapidly place naloxone in the hands of those most readily able to stop and reverse opioid overdoses. LARA is in the process of establishing permanent rules regarding the dispensing of naloxone under the standing order.
As of mid-November, 49.8 percent of Michigan’s 2,840 pharmacies with controlled substance licenses had registered with MDHHS to be able to dispense naloxone under the standing order.
People who obtain naloxone from pharmacies receive information on steps for responding to an opioid overdose and important details about where to go for further treatment. Pharmacies are required to continue tracking the amount of naloxone dispensed and will report these numbers to MDHHS on a quarterly basis.
Registered pharmacies can be found at www.michigan.gov/naloxone.
According to MLive, Michigan’s most populated counties register the highest number of opioid prescriptions, with Wayne, Macomb and Genesee counties topping the list. As you might expect, those densely populated counties had the highest number of opioid deaths, says Workit Health
In October of this year, Wayne and Oakland county executives filed a joint lawsuit against several drug manufacturers and distributors, alleging the “deceptive marketing and sale of opioids” including OxyContin and Fentanyl.
The suit was filed in the U.S District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan. It demands a jury trial. The complaints include violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, public nuisance, negligence, unjust enrichment, and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.
Earlier this year Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette opened an investigation into opioid manufacturers and distributors, as part of a bipartisan effort involving 41 state attorneys general who want detailed information and documents from the corporations, the attorney general’s website says.
A list of treatment services for opioid addiction can be found on Schuette’s website.