Doctor speaks about how the Opioid Epidemic Act may help

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey made one of his New Year’s resolutions to crack down on the opioid crisis in the state, which killed at least 800 Arizonans last summer.

“If the policy is going to have any effect on the current opioid crisis, it’s going to need to be far-reaching and comprehensive,” Dr. Luke Peterson from Banner University Medical Center says. “I think that this Opioid Epidemic Act is a good first step, (but) it’s not going to be the solution.”

Peterson says the number one killers of Arizonans right now is the overprescribing of pills. At the moment, the state is in a position where the current number of prescribers and the number of providers that can treat opioid use disorder are lacking, according to Peterson. He says it would help to have more physicians and other providers to step in and screen, diagnose and treat these patients.

There are some critics of the act saying that politicians are telling doctors how to do their job, which Peterson disagrees with. He says there are some provisions that exclude some doctors who don’t have internet capabilities.

Many are blaming the “bad actors” for giving all the doctors a bad name. While it’s easy to find a scapegoat, Peterson says, “the reality is, all of us are to blame.” Those who are overprescribing come from primary care settings and family doctors. Peterson says everyone should take responsibility to solve this multifaceted problem.

Legislators were on Arizona Horizon last week to discuss the opioid epidemic and how Ducey plans on helping it.

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Dr. Luke Peterson: Banner University Medical Center

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