Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $289,119)
The opioid crisis is a public health emergency that is eroding the quality of life for Alabama residents. In 2016, Alabama led the Nation in the number of per capita prescriptions for opioids with over 5 million prescriptions issued which is equivalent to 1.2 prescriptions for every man, woman, and child in Alabama. People are dying and families are being devastated. Alabama has experienced over 5,000 overdose deaths in the last decade alone, with significant increases year over year. Based on these alarming statistics, arguably no State has a greater need to address the opioid epidemic than Alabama.
As the sole provider of forensic testing services to over 450+ law enforcement agencies throughout Alabama, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) has also experienced a dramatic increase in the request for drug chemistry testing services as a result of the opioid epidemic in this State. Specifically, in FY2017 ADFS received 33,672 drug chemistry cases requiring analysis a 32.8% increase over the prior year, largely the result of increased opioid related drug cases. There is a real and desperate need for improved, streamlined, and more efficient laboratory processes to address the backlog associated with opioid cases in drug chemistry, so the quality and timeliness of forensic drug chemistry services can be realized over current laboratory operations.
To address this bottleneck, ADFS plans to utilize Federal funds from this award to purchase and implement an additional DART-TOF instrument, increasing the capacity of the statewide ADFS Drug Chemistry section by over 22%. The addition of a DART-TOF instrument will allow ADFS to reduce the statewide drug chemistry backlog, improve the quality and turnaround time for opioid related cases by 10%, and position ADFS to better serve all 450+ law enforcement agencies throughout Alabama.