Public health officials expect the number of opioid-related deaths this year in Iowa will surpass last year’s total of 180.
Kevin Gabbert is leader of the State Opioid Treatment Authority and says other states have reduced opioid-related deaths by strengthening prescription monitoring programs and instituting “good Samaritan” laws.
“Whether or not we would have seen a significant increase had these things been done sooner I can’t say for sure, but I’m hopeful that in the future we can look at making some of those changes so that we can better address some of those issues,” Gabbert said.
Iowa lawmakers have yet to recommend specific legislation to prevent opioid abuse and overdoses, but Gabbert notes the public health department is trying to be proactive about preventing deaths.
“We’ve taken part in several different efforts to try and address this issue – like expanding medication assisted treatment, making Naloxone more readily available to individuals, so we’re hopeful that the increase that we saw wasn’t as much as it maybe could’ve been,” Gabbert said.
The Iowa Department of Public Health is expecting opioid-related deaths to increase to just over 200 in 2017.
(Thanks to Katarina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio)