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Vancouver City Council hears local opioid deaths fall

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Vancouver is on track for far fewer opioid overdose responses this year

OxyContin

FILE – This Feb. 19, 2013 file photo shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. State attorneys general and lawyers representing local governments said Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, they are in active negotiations with Purdue Pharma, maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, as they attempt to reach a landmark settlement over the nation’s opioid crisis. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — The latest report from Vancouver’s contracted ambulance company showed opioid overdoses in the region appear to be dropping so far in 2019 compared with the year prior.

The Columbian reports that during an annual report from American Medical Response, Dr. Lynn Wittwer, Clark County medical program director, reported that ambulance first responders reported 243 possible opioid calls in 2018. From January to June 2019, that number dropped to 76 calls — on track for far fewer opioid overdose responses this year.

“This year, we’re less than half, to this date. Things are possibly improving out there,” Wittwer said.

That’s not true of the rest of the state, where the number of EMS opioid responses are on track to surpass last year. Washington’s first responders have logged 3,221 opioid overdoses as of June. If that rate continues, 2019’s opioid responses will exceed 2018’s total of 5,547 calls.

Clark County is bucking statewide opioid death trends, too. In 2017 — the most recent available data — Washington’s rate of opioid overdose deaths hit 9.6 per 100,000 people. The county’s rate was a little better, with 7.3 overdose deaths out of 100,000 people.

Wittwer partially credits the drop to the increasing availability of Naloxone, a drug that when administered immediately can counteract the effects of opioids and pull a user’s body back from the edge of a fatal overdose.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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