Gov. Brad Little has signed an executive order aimed at combatting opioid and substance misuse in Idaho.

Opioids, including prescription pain relievers and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and heroin, lead drug-induced deaths in Idaho. Opioid prescriptions are dispensed in Idaho at a higher rate than 34 other states, and Idaho ranks 25th in the country for prescription pain reliever misuse.

“The opioid crisis is taking lives and destroying families in Idaho. My executive order uses a broad, holistic approach to examining the crisis, so we can develop solutions that save lives and create a brighter future for our state,” Little said. “Idaho’s collaborative approach has led to significant progress in combatting opioid misuse to date, but there’s more we can do. My executive order establishes an advisory group that will ensure we are investing in the right strategies and programs to make a meaningful difference for our state.”

Melinda Smyser, administrator of the Governor’s Office of Drug Policy, will chair the advisory group established by the executive order. The group will research, evaluate, and provide the Governor recommendations on:

  • Policies directing law enforcement and prosecutors to refer first-time, non-violent drug offenders to local crisis centers rather than arrest and indictment
  • Prescription limitations and practices including use of the prescription monitoring program
  • Educating the medical community about opioid regimens, risks, and alternatives
  • Treatment options for opioid and substance misuse
  • Coordinating and integrating efforts with patients’ current behavioral health plans
  • Mandates for reporting overdose deaths
  • Public awareness campaigns about opioid risks
  • Best practices in other states used to combat opioid abuse and substance use disorder
  • Actions to be taken at the federal level to assist in these efforts

The advisory group will include representatives of the Department of Health and Welfare; Board of Medicine; Board of Dentistry; Board of Pharmacy; Department of Correction; Idaho State Police; State Department of Education; Division of Veterans Services; Idaho Indian Tribes; and the medical, hospital, pharmacy, treatment, and insurance communities. The group also will include a member of the Idaho House of Representatives; a member of the Idaho Senate; a member of the judiciary; a county sheriff; a county prosecutor; and a city police chief.

In addition, Little said he will direct agencies within his administration to do more to fight opioid and substance misuse, including:

  1. The Board of Pharmacy will research and deploy funding mechanisms to integrate prescription drug monitoring program data with electronic medical records and pharmacy dispensing systems. 
  1. The Departments of Health and Welfare, Administration, and Insurance will research and formulate plans to reduce administrative and payment barriers, promote better access to medication-assisted therapy, and promote opioid-alternative pain management in existing health plans.
  1. The Governor’s Office of Drug Policy will continue efforts to promote and broaden drug disposal programs; evaluate and pursue further opioid education, prevention measures, and resiliency training; and encourage and partner with county and local law enforcement, paramedics, and correctional officials to supply naloxone and apply for grant funding for naloxone distribution.
  1. The Department of Correction, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Welfare, will research and plan a pilot program utilizing a medication-assisted therapy program for offenders convicted of opioid possession or use.

A copy of Executive Order 2019-09 is here.