Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds discusses fight against fentanyl amid rising overdose deaths

Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 1:40 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KTTC) – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds discussed the ongoing fight against fentanyl in the state’s “One Pill Can Kill” campaign Tuesday amid rising overdose deaths across the state.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. It was manufactured as a patch to apply on cancer patients to help manage pain, but the drug has also been diverted for abuse.

The DEA said fentanyl gets mixed in with heroin and other opioids, and people who think they are purchasing heroin are actually buying fentanyl. According to the DEA, it’s primarily manufactured in Mexico.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, more than 107,000 deaths happened in 2021 due to drug overdoses with more than 70,000 of those deaths being caused by fentanyl.

According to Gov. Reynolds, fentanyl is the leading cause of overdose deaths in Iowa, and overdoses are up 120% among young people in Iowa.

“The surge of illegal drug trafficking at our nation’s southern borders caused by policy changes were enacted by the Biden administration 18 months ago is undeniably fueling the fentanyl crisis,” Gov. Reynolds said.

Deric and Kathy Kidd spoke at the news conference. Their son Sebastian died in July of 2021 after he took half of a Percocet that was laced with fentanyl.

“Trust me when I tell you, you don’t want to feel this pain,” Deric Kidd said. “It never goes away. You don’t want to wake up and find your child’s lifeless body in their bedroom. Kids think they are invincible. They are naive. All it takes is one bad day. One bad choice. Don’t think as a parent it could never happen to you.”

The Kidds said they want parents to educate themselves and their children about the crisis.

“Don’t judge. It takes a village and we are in this fight together,” Deric said.

Officials recommend people only trust pills from a trusted pharmacy, lock up medications and notify law enforcement of any suspicious drug activity and to have open conversations with their children about the dangers of drug use.

Officials warn against improper disposal of pills that people may find, including flushing them down the toilet. They warn that even touching fentanyl can be deadly.

Iowa Dept. of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens recommends calling law enforcement right away if someone discovers pills or call the Narcotics Enforcement tip line.

“Stopping the flow of poison like fentanyl is a high drug enforcement priority,” Bayens said. “The volume of fentanyl seized in Iowa by law enforcement is shocking. I am surprised our overdose deaths aren’t higher.”

Gov. Reynolds said agencies from all over the state have been working hard to fight drug traffickers and arrests have been made, but more needs to be done.

She tearfully addressed the crowd.

“I am joining state agencies engaging in this effort,” Gov. Reynolds said. “I want to thank each of them and their teams for their dedication. But as you hear from each of them, there is more to be done to combat this crisis and we need each Iowan to be a part of this effort.”

For more information on the “One Pill Can Kill” campaign, click here.

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