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Arizona Top Health Official Wants More Power To Deal With Opioid Overdoses

Citing state laws on epidemics, the state's top health official wants Gov. Doug Ducey to give her more powers to deal with opioid overdoses, including the ability to identify and track individual patients.

In a memo to the governor, Cara Christ wants daily reports of suspected cases of deaths from both prescription and non-legal forms of opiates.

Arizona Department of Health Services spokeswoman Holly Ward said there’s a sense of urgency to deal with the crisis.

“Clearly, public health policies and rule change have not been enough," Ward said. "So now this is getting to an area or epidemic proportion that policies and law can't change alone."

The request comes as health officials struggle to get a handle on not only the rapidly increasing use of the drug, both legally and otherwise, but a spike in deaths.

Health officials report 790 Arizonans died of opioid overdoses last year, an average of more than two a day.