Skip to content
Enaa neenyo
(Denaakk'e / Koyukon) Welcome ("precious you came")
Back to Top

Press Release

State Receives Federal Grant for Overdose Death Review Panel

October 11, 2018

(Anchorage, AK) – Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth announced today in her opening remarks at the Overdose Death Investigation and Prosecution Training that the State will receive $993,000 in federal grant funds over three years to establish an Overdose Death Review Panel. This dovetails with the legislation proposed in the October update to the Public Safety Action Plan (PDF - 388K) that would provide the necessary confidentiality protections for discussions and meetings of the panel.

“Investigating overdose deaths gives us more information on our current drug epidemic and the sources of drugs coming into our state,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “Just as we are holding manufacturers accountable for their fraudulent marketing of opioids, we need to hold drug traffickers accountable for the deaths they cause. Traffickers are lacing heroin with the deadly drug fentanyl—often without those suffering from drug addictions knowing about it. One dose of fentanyl can be lethal.”

The federal grant will help the State stand up a multi-agency Overdose Death Review Panel to take an in-depth look at the cases of overdose deaths in Alaska. This is part of a larger goal of Alaska’s public health and law enforcement agencies to hold those who dispense, manufacture, or supply drugs responsible for those that are killed by their drugs. At Attorney General Lindemuth’s invitation, the National Attorneys’ General Training and Research Institute is providing a full day of training to prosecutors and law enforcement on the investigation and prosecution of death cases resulting from overdoses of heroin and fentanyl. Over 100 prosecutors and law enforcement officers are present at the training.

“The review panel will provide a chance to do a deep dive into the causes of overdose deaths and identify missed opportunities for prevention,” explained Dr. Jay Butler, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Social Services. “The model of detailed reviews of preventable deaths is a proven public health tool that has been used in Alaska for many years to reduce deaths among pregnant women, babies, and children. The reviews are being launched in a number of states as a method to improve healthcare, public safety, and overall policy.”

The Overdose Death Review Panel is just one piece of the multi-faceted plan to address Alaska’s opioid epidemic and public safety crisis. More information on these efforts can be found at the Alaska Opioid Data Dashboard.

# # #