Fentanyl and federal funding cuts to addiction treatment programs are hurting Delaware’s fight against the opiate epidemic.
That’s according to Dr. Terry Horton, chief of Christiana Care’s Division of Addiction Medicine.
Horton testified before a U.S. Senate committee on the opioid epidemic in late May, saying this is the worst possible time to cut healthcare funding.
“We have fentanyl overdoses increasing. We have heroin overdoses increasing. This is not the time to be getting rid of our drug treatment programs,” he said.
Delaware stands to lose $2 billion in healthcare funding over the next decade, between Trump’s proposed budget cuts and a Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, according to Horton.
He also worries about Mr. Trump's plans to cut federal funding for the overdose-reversal drug Narcan.
Last year 308 people died in Delaware from drug overdoses, and about 1,200 were treated with the Narcan.
"If we didn't have funding for Narcan, we would have seen four to five times as many overdose deaths last year," he said.
He added Delaware’s opiate crisis is going to get worse before it gets better. That’s because the prevalence of fentanyl -which is indistinguishable from heroin and 50 times more powerful- is on the rise.
Delaware has seen 94 overdose deaths so far this year. Many of those deaths occurred in clusters, with officials blaming fentanyl-laced heroin.
"We haven't seen the full effect of fentanyl here in the First State," Horton said. "Not yet."