Report: More Funding Needed to Fight Opioid Epidemic in Delaware - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Report: More Funding Needed to Fight Opioid Epidemic in Delaware

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(Photo: MGN Online) (Photo: MGN Online)

DOVER, Del.- A report from Delaware's attorney general says the state has made some progress in regulations surrounding the opioid epidemic but still needs to spend more money on treatment programs.

The fourth annual report from Attorney General Matt Denn's office said the state has not moved to spend new dollars on opioid treatment options.

"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 said.

In particular, the report said the state needs to expand access to inpatient substance abuse treatment as well as sober living options.

"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," the report said.

Herb Konowitz with the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing said he agrees with that assessment and noted that many nonprofits are struggling to assist a homeless population that frequently deals with opioid addictions.

"These guys are complaining that they get a counselor they see once a month. That's not going to work," he said.

The report also noted expanded use of Narcan -- an overdose-reversing drug -- by first responders and law enforcement officers.

Harrington Police Chief Norman Barlow said the department's officers has used it in recent years after becoming equipped with the doses of the drug.

"Over the last two years we've probably administered it 20 something times," he said.

But the report also recommended the creation of a "opioid impact fee" that would be charged to drug manufacturers.

Legislation enacting such a fee was introduced in the previous legislative session but it stalled out in the state Senate.

Although the proposal barred drug manufacturers from recouping the cost of the fee with higher prices, Emily Cornelius, a recovering addict from Kent County, said she worried pharmacists and consumers would be forced to pay more.

Cornelius believes the impact fee could affect poor people who need opioids for legitimate conditions or people who are abusing opioids.

"The more expensive drugs are at the pharmacy, the more cheaper heroin is on the street and that's what they turn to," she said.

Nevertheless, the report maintains the impact fee would help Delaware find funding to help fight the opioid epidemic.

"DOJ recommends that the General Assembly enact legislation creating an opioid impact fee in the upcoming General Assembly," the report said. "DOJ believes a statute can be enacted that will survive legal challenge and that will not materially impact the cost of prescription drugs in Delaware."

To read the entire report, click here.

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