The reality of the opioid epidemic affects every family, community, and city in the nation.
- In 2021, approximately 100,000 died of a drug related overdose death. This makes for around 277 people per day.
- Utah was once ranked 4th in the nation for drug overdose deaths and we are now 38th in the nation for drug overdose deaths.
- Opioid deaths in Utah have outpaced deaths caused by firearms, falls, motor vehicle crashes.
It’s important to note the people we are losing should not be viewed as another statistic. We need to recognize those we are losing are many people we love. We approach this crisis through an empathetic lens, working together to prevent substance misuse, overdose death and provide spaces and programs to allow people to rehabilitate.
Working with legislators, community activists, medical community, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Attorney General Sean Reyes organized the Utah Opioid Task Force in 2017 to combat the opioid epidemic. The Utah Opioid Task Force is a voluntary task force made up of representatives from partner agencies and organizations across the state. The mission of the task force is to take action against opioid abuse through law enforcement, prosecution, proposed legislation, and innovation. The collaborative process brings together leaders to create solutions that take on the opioid crisis with direct action.
In 2017, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes co-authored a letter representing a coalition of 37 states and territories urging health insurance companies to examine financial incentives that contribute to the opioid epidemic in Utah. Additionally, AG Reyes announced that an investigation by a bipartisan coalition of 41 state attorneys general is seeking documents and information from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. This information will enable the attorneys general to evaluate whether these businesses are engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids.
The AGO has joined with a bipartisan group of attorneys general from across the country in letters to 15 healthcare companies that provide pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services to encourage companies to implement programs to mitigate prescription opioid abuse.
The task force was called on to make available naloxone rescue kits, which are used solely as an antidote to reverse an opiate overdose. Additionally, legislators and medical community members of the task force are collaborating to forward legislation to address various aspects of the opioid epidemic.
The Utah Opioid Task Force (UTOTF) serves as a network to collaborate to create results. UTOTF is a space for diverse representation of robust subject matter experts in opioid related spaces.
This group remains action-oriented with a focus on results. We have no standing subcommittees, only Ad Hoc workgroups formed by the Executive Committee when specific action items arise. The focus is results driven. There will be no standing meetings for workgroups.
Utah Opioid Settlement Updates
In 2021, Utah announced a press release update regarding opioid settlement money. This money is intended to ameliorate the harms the opioid crisis have had on Utahns. Through the Utah Opioid Task Force, the Utah Opioid Advisory Committee was formulated as a voluntary group of subject matter experts to provide general guidance on how to best spend these funds.
A publication has been made of the findings from both Subject Matter Experts from across the state, and a statewide voluntary survey that allowed for those impacted by this space to have a say in how these funds should be distributed. Please see the below attachments further information. You can also visit www.UtahOpioidPriorities.org
Opioid Task Force Executive Team:
Attorney General Sean Reyes, Utah Office of the Attorney General, Chair, Litigation
Senator Mike Lee, U.S. Senator, Federal Government
Dr. Jennifer Plumb, Utah Naloxone, Drug Overdose Prevention, Harm Reduction, Policy
Brian Besser, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Public Safety
Brent Kelsey, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Substance Use and Mental Health, Health Systems and Behavioral Health
Mary Jo McMillen, Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness, Recovery
Members (Subject Matter Experts): Group of vetted professionals who may be called upon to provide insight on their respective fields.
Mailing list: open to the public for those who have a vested interest in the opioid realm to participate in the quarterly meetings. This is not a decision-making body, and the task force should not be used in any way to promote anything other than being a participant of the meetings.
Resources/ Educational Opportunities: