The number of opioid pain relievers prescribed in the United States has risen dramatically over the past two decades, and the rate of opioid related overdose deaths has also increased. State programs have prescription drug monitoring programs help prevent 10 opioid-overdose deaths a day in the U.S. New research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that state implementation of prescription drug monitoring programs showed a reduction in opioid-related overdose deaths. The study also found that states that monitor greater numbers of drugs with abuse potential and update their database frequently had a greater decline in opioid-related over deaths than programs without those characteristics. The data collected from the study found that implementation of such monitoring programs was linked to a decrease of 1.12 opioid-related overdose deaths per 100,000 population. A state with a program that monitored four or more drug schedules and updated their information at least weekly was predicted to have 1.55 fewer opioid-related overdose deaths per 100,000 population annually than a state without a program. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) are statewide electronic databases that track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances, including patients who might be seeking prescriptions from multiple doctors (“doctor shopping”). PDMPs are designed to help authorities monitor for suspected abuse or diversion of prescription medications, including opioid analgesics, and can help health care professionals identify patients who may be at risk for drug misuse or addiction and could benefit from early intervention. Implementing drug monitoring in all states and strengthening weaker programs could prevent another 600 opioid-overdose deaths this year, researchers calculated. “Prescription drug-monitoring programs are a public health tool to ensure that we’re using opioids appropriately but limiting the negative health impacts we see in almost every community in the United States,” lead author Dr. Stephen W. Patrick said.
More than 40 Americans die every day from prescription opioid overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prescribing and sales of opioids, including the painkillers oxycodone and Vicodin, have quadrupled since 1999, fueling the epidemic. From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Congress is currently considering legislation to bolster the U.S. public health response to the opioid epidemic.
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