Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Lifestyles
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Fighting drug overdoses, officials list the states with highest painkiller prescription rates

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Powerful painkillers have been driving the nation's rising rate of overdose deaths, and now the government is singling out the states where doctors write the most prescriptions.

A second report released Tuesday spotlights how a crackdown in Florida led to hundreds fewer overdose deaths from prescription painkillers in just a few years.

The reports are part of a campaign by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to combat deaths from prescription opioids like Vicodin and OxyContin. In 2011, drug overdose deaths reached 41,000 and 41 per cent of them involved prescription painkillers.

The state account comes from a database of U.S. retail pharmacies that fill the bulk of prescriptions.

THE NATIONAL PICTURE:

Southern states had the most prescriptions in 2012. Alabama was in the lead with 143 prescriptions per 100 people, followed closely by Tennessee. The other leading states were — in ranking order — West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Louisiana. Doctors in the South have also topped prescription rate lists for other medications, including antibiotics and stimulants for children. Rates of chronic disease tend to be higher in the South, but past research has found that doesn't explain away the difference. Hawaii had the least prescriptions, at 52 per 100 people.

THE IMPACT

"Prescriptions go up, deaths go up. Prescriptions go down, deaths go down," said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. While that seems logical, evidence of that link is incomplete. The CDC reports state death rates but combines all kinds of drug overdoses, including heroin and cocaine. And those rankings differ from the prescription list. But officials cite studies that show higher overdose rates when there are more prescriptions of painkillers and larger doses prescribed.

THE FIX

Officials say there's a need for more prescription drug monitoring programs at the state level, and more laws shutting down "pill mills" — doctor offices and clinics that over-prescribe addictive medicines. The CDC points to a success story in Florida, where pill mills became a large problem in the last decade. In 2010-2011, the state enacted tougher pain clinic regulations and police did a series of raids. By 2012, prescriptions for oxycodone alone fell 24 per cent and the death rate for prescription drug overdoses dropped 23 per cent. "When you take serious action, you get encouraging results," Frieden said.

___

Online:

CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Sudden Surge: Flood of 2014
Opportunity Magazine — The Bakken
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media