Dec 8, 2022 - News
Fentanyl test strips blocked from Iowa harm reduction boxes
Harm reduction boxes were added at Polk County's Health Department and River Place locations in Des Moines during the last month.
- They contain things like tourniquets, cotton filters and needle disposal containers.
- The intent is to help assist people who are struggling with substance abuse avoid some of the harshest consequences of addiction — like infections that can cause death.
- The devices are locked. Codes are provided by health workers to people who may need them via appointment or through a request to the department's staff.
Yes, but: The kits don't have fentanyl test strips because they are classified as drug paraphernalia and are illegal in Iowa.
- Polk officials support efforts to change the law, Polk County Health Department spokesperson Madisun VanGundy told Axios.
- Wisconsin and Georgia are among states that have decriminalized the strips, according to information from the Iowa Attorney General's office.
Zoom in: Fentanyl test strips detect synthetic opioids that can be highly lethal.
- At least 471 people died of drug overdoses last year in Iowa, up 71% since 2018.
- The increase is largely attributed to fentanyl, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
- Gov. Kim Reynolds joined a group of health officials in July in warning the public about the growing fentanyl epidemic.
Catch up fast: Harm reduction is part of a movement to use a proactive approach in reducing problems associated with substance abuse.
- Groups like the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition (IHRC) provide people with supplies, including free drugs to reverse opioid overdose like naloxone.
- A grant from IDPH covered much of the costs of Polk's boxes.
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