The rise of overdose deaths related to fentanyl helped fuel action taken by Illinois lawmakers last week. House Bill 4556 would allow pharmacies and medical providers to distribute fentanyl testing kits.
“In a perfect environment, we don’t have people using illicit substances at all. But at least for now, we want to make sure they’re using them safely,” said Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association.
The legislation will go into effect immediately once it’s signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker. Reynolds said an uptick in overdose deaths prompted the push for the legislation.
“This is just another added way in our state’s comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid epidemic,” he said.
Aaron Laxton is the director of behavioral health with Assisted Recovery Centers of America in St. Louis (ARCA). He believes greater access to fentanyl test strips will help save lives.
“We’ve seen a 26% increase in overdose deaths of stimulant users in the last year,” said Laxton.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website has a link promoting safer drug use and ways to reduce risk. The advice includes, “Test drugs with a fentanyl test strip, when possible.”
Laxton says making the test strips accessible is part of a comprehensive effort that includes providing greater access to treatment.
“If you contact us today, within 24 hours you’re going to get into a treatment spot,” said Laxton. He said ARCA is working hard to provide treatment at no cost or a very low cost. Anyone in need of treatment help can call 314-645-6840 or visit https://www.arcamidwest.com/.