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State of Florida Declares Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency

The State of Florida has officially declared the opioid epidemic to be a Public Health Emergency, as announced by Governor Rick Scott earlier today.

The release of this information, put forth by the Florida Department of Health, notes several factors which have led to the declaration of this emergency, including the following:

  • An estimated 3,900 deaths related to opioids in Florida in 2015
  • Additional services required from First Responders in the area to combat the reach of the epidemic
  • A significant increase in the use of naloxone among Emergency Departments and First Responders

The state of emergency was issued by Governor Scott in conjunction with the Surgeon General of Florida, Celeste Philip.

Many officials urged the governor to take action in addressing the epidemic, including Senate Leader Oscar Braynon, who wrote in February that, “There is no family, no race, no ethnicity, no income level this epidemic cannot touch — and no effective state bulwark in place to stop it.”

As the crisis swells in Florida, overdoses are occurring on a daily—even hourly—basis throughout the state. The availability of naloxone has also been called into question—and with so many needed doses, law enforcement has become overwhelmed.

Today’s call to action authorizes pharmacists to keep a Standing Order of Naloxone on file. This would allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone to First Responders in the event of a suspected opioid overdose.

Officials estimate that 1,000 deaths were attributed to overdoses in 2016—with medical examiners continuing to evaluate individual cases. This number has the potential to increase—and the statistics for 2017 only continue to grow.

As the state of Florida reacts to this official news, the urgent need for treatment and resources becomes even more evident. There is no questioning the wide-ranging scope of this crisis, and as mentioned by Senate Leader Braynon, the crisis is one that has not—and will not—discriminate.

 

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