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At the beginning of 2018, Iowa had a decline in opioid overdoses



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According to preliminary data from the State Department of Health, the number of opioid-related deaths in 2018 has fallen year-on-year.

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The number of deaths from opioids in 2018 fell by 35 percent in the same period in 2017. This was preliminary data for 2018 of the Bureau of Health Statistics, which were published on Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

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From January to August 2018, 89 deaths were reported due to opioids.

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Year after year, opioid-related death in Iowa
This is the total number of opioid-related deaths in Iowa from 2010 to 2018:
2010 – 148
2011 – 168
2012 – 174
2013 – 173
2014 – 168
2015 – 163
2016 – 180
2017 – 206
2018 – 89 (January to August)
Source: Iowa Department of Public Health
19659017] In 2017, between January and August, 137 such deaths were recorded. In total there were 206 deaths in 2017.

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Kevin Gabbert, director of the Department of Public Health Opioid Initiatives, said the officials were surprised by the numbers, especially given the 14 percent increase from 2016 to 2017. A drop of 35 percent "is a significant boost", he said.

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"Nationally, we see a plateau in terms of the number of deaths related to opioids, but there is not that much information about states that actually experience a reduction," he said.

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Gabbert warned, however, that the trend could change until the end of the year.

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"The thing is that these are preliminary data. We have no actual data until at least three to six months after the start of 2019, "said Gabbert.

WHY THE REDUCTION?

Several factors could contribute to the decline, said Gabbert, including community efforts such as Cedar Rapids-based Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition, or the state's Prescription Monitoring Program, which reviews controlled substance orders.

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In 2016, the federal legislature passed a law to expand access to the opioid overdose drug Naloxone. IDPH's medical director gave fixed-term pharmacies permission to provide the drug to Iowans without a prescription – steps to which Gabbert also referred as contributing factors.

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ART CONTINUES ADVERTISEMENT

For Gabbert, the data show the importance of remaining ahead of the national opioid overdose epidemic, of over 72,000 overdose deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and the US in 2017 in the United States were recorded prevention.

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"It has sometimes been criticized how much we focused on opioids and reduced the number of overdose deaths because we do not have the same problems as West Virginia or Ohio," said Gabbert.

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"We have followed a preventive approach. We strongly believe that we want to be one step ahead of the topic instead of chasing it. "

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But Gabbert said the department wanted a continued movement, including expanded access to drug-based treatment that combines behavioral therapy and drugs to treat substance use disorders.

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In 2015, only 31 providers offered drug-assisted treatment, said Gabbert. There were 109 nationwide in the last week.

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Ministry of Health officials hope that number will continue to rise.

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"The more seducers we can get on board, the better it will be in our state," he said.

DATA IN REAL TIME

According to the federal CDC, in Italy, opioid-related overdose deaths have steadily increased since 2000, when there were a total of 23 deaths.

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In 2017, there were a total of 206 opioid-related deaths and 180 deaths in 2016.

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On July 1, the Department of Public Health introduced a request to Iowa hospitals to report the number of opioid overdoses that do not always result in death in their emergency department.

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Since July 1, Gabbert has said that 395 suspected and confirmed overdoses have been recorded in hospital emergency rooms.

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"This number surprised us," said Gabbert.

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Hospitals must report an incident within three days to allow the public health department to more or less see the real-time overdose rate.

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"You would have to wait four to six months after the previous year to find out what we had for actual overdoses," said Gabbert. "It does us no good if we try to intervene and seek a prevention approach."

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Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com


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