/ Modified aug 27, 2018 10:55 a.m.

Illicit Opioid Seizures Rise as Prescriptions Drop

A discussion with DEA special agent in charge Doug Coleman.

Tucson Medical Center filed suit against more than 30 opioid distributors and manufacturers this week. It comes as data show physicians in Arizona are writing fewer prescriptions.

According to the Arizona Department of Health and Human Services, the number of pills dispensed each month dropped by 43 percent between June 2017 and June 2018, from more than 35,000 per month, to just over 20,000 per month. However, that decrease hasn't necessarily translated into a fall in drug use. The Drug Enforcement Administration said the number of illicit opioid seizures is up from this time last year. Doug Coleman, special agent in charge, explained some of the reasons.

"We see a lot of fentanyl coming across the border into Arizona now. And I think that's directly related to the fact that the opioid prescription drugs are getting harder and harder to get," Coleman said. In the last nine months, agents in Arizona have seized enough fentanyl to potentially kill 50 million Americans, according to Coleman.

Arizona 360
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