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Following the enforcement action against two opioid prescribers in Alaska by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is coordinating with state, federal, tribal and local partners and Alaska’s medical community to assist in addressing the physical and behavioral health needs for individuals with discontinued prescriptions.

DHSS issued a press release on this topic on Friday, Oct. 11.

Opioid Health Action Response

On October 9, 2019 the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested and charged an Anchorage nurse and a Soldotna doctor with illegally distributing opioids to patients. While we don’t know exactly how many patients may be affected, DHSS has been told that the two providers served approximately 2,000 patients.

The health and well-being of Alaskans is our mission. DHSS is coordinating with federal, tribal, state, and local providers, as well as with Alaska’s medical community and insurers, as we work together to address any possible physical and behavioral health needs for individuals with discontinued prescriptions. We understand patients likely have a range of conditions, needs and concerns, and we’ve prepared some answers to questions you might have as a patient, health care provider or pharmacist.

For patients

Patients should know that the DEA licenses for these two prescribers have been deactivated. That means opioid prescriptions from these prescribers, and in some cases other prescriptions, will not be filled by pharmacies.

The patients who visited these clinics may have a wide array of medical needs including chronic pain. Moving forward, these patients will need to discuss their options with a health care provider. Patients are encouraged to contact their insurance provider to find a new health care provider, if needed. It’s important for patients to have a usual place of care. If their usual health care provider was one of the arrested providers, we hope this Patient Information/FAQ will help to navigate any needed transitions

Please also be aware of these free, confidential resources that may be of help:

  • Always call 911 if it’s a life-threatening emergency.
  • To find supportive services, dial 2-1-1 to call United Way. Operational hours are 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. If you call after-hours, please leave a message. Phone calls will be returned the next business day. 2-1-1 provides information and referral service that connect people to vital community, health and social services provided by a range of nonprofit, government and tribal agencies.
  • SAMHSA has a national helpline to assist with finding behavioral health support or substance use management at 800-662-HELP (4357), TTY: 800-487-4889, or online at Calls are manned 24/7 and are routed to the DHSS Division of Behavioral Health during DHSS operational hours. 
  • Help is available 24/7 through Alaska's crisis hotline, Careline, which provides help for people who are either in crisis or who are dealing with isolation or depression. Call 1-877-266-HELP (4357).

The Opioids in Alaska website offers information on opioids education, preventing opioid overdose with naloxone, non-opioid pain management and more.

For health care providers

Health care facilities should be aware that they may see an increase in patients in the coming weeks. As a medical community, we need to be prepared to help patients who may be experiencing difficulties. Please refer to this Alaska Public Health Alert Network (PHAN) notice and this provider fact sheet for more information.

For pharmacists

The Alaska Board of Pharmacy issued this letter to pharmacists on Oct. 17, 2019, providing guidance to pharmacists on how to deal with prescriptions from the two prescribers involved in this incident. More helpful resources for pharmacists can be found on the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program website.

For first responders

Law enforcement and first responders may see a rise in emergency 911 calls over the next few weeks or months.

Please check your supplies of Narcan® (naloxone). If you need naloxone, please contact DHSS Project Hope to inquire about supplies and training of this life-saving medication. 

Please refer patients who need a new provider to the resources listed above. 

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