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Report: States failing to curb prescription abuse
October 7th, 2013
12:44 PM ET

Report: States failing to curb prescription abuse

Since 1999, sales of prescription painkillers in the United States have quadrupled. So have the number of fatal poisonings due to prescription painkillers, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Prescription drug misuse is now responsible for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

Despite these shocking statistics, a new report from Trust for America's Health finds many states are lacking effective strategies to curb prescription drug abuse.

The report, titled "Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic," shows more than half the states scored a six or less on the advocacy organization's scale, which assesses the ways states are trying to combat prescription drug abuse. Only two states, New Mexico and Vermont, scored 10 out of 10.

"In the past two decades we've seen many advances in the development of new prescription drugs, which have been a miracle for many," said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health. "But we've also seen a corresponding rise in misuse, and the consequences can be dire."

There is some good news. The estimated number of Americans who abuse prescription drugs was 6.1 million in 2011, down from 7 million the previous year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. But the number of drug overdose deaths, the majority of which are due to prescription drugs, has doubled in 29 states since 1999, according to this new report. And in some of those states the number of deaths has tripled, or even quadrupled.

Trust for America's Health evaluated each state on several strategies that have shown promise in fighting against prescription drug abuse. One was prescription drug monitoring programs, which help pharmacists and doctors identify patients who are "doctor shopping," or visiting various doctors to fill more prescriptions. While 49 of the 50 states had these programs in place, only 16 required medical providers to use them, according to the report.

The organization also looked at Rescue Drug laws in each state. "Rescue Drug" refers to the prescription drug naloxone, which has shown to be effective in counteracting an overdose.

"People who have to take these pain relievers or who are caring for someone taking them may want to explore whether they can get a prescription for naloxone to have it on hand as a rescue drug in the event of an overdose," said Andrea Geilen, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy.

But researchers found just 17 states, and Washington D.C., allow the general population to access and administer this drug.

The report also evaluated laws that require special education for medical providers who prescribe prescription painkillers. Fewer than half the states had enacted laws addressing this issue.

"Many providers do not receive adequate training about how some medications can be misused, how some patients can develop drug dependence and how to provide effective patient education," Geilen said.

Trust for America's Health found the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in Appalachia and in the Southwest, with West Virginia topping the list at 28.9 deaths per every 100,000 people. By comparison, North Dakota had the lowest rate, at 3.4 per every 100,000. Drug overdose deaths now exceed motor-vehicle related deaths in 29 states, according to the report.

Dr. Gupta: Let's end the prescription drug death epidemic


soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Blame Republicans For Obamacare

    If the republicans had introduced a single payer system (the ONLY system that will allow us, as an entire nation, to negotiate better health care prices), then we wouldn't have to worry about Obamacare today. But since the republicans introduced NOTHING (as usual) to address the health care crisis, we now have Obamacare. Blame the republicans for Obamacare. After all it was their idea, supported by the Heritage Foundation, and implemented by Mitt Romney!!!!!

    October 8, 2013 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Farrok

    Ridiculous, 20% of America's Children are in poverty and the authorities are in a lather about this? Give food, clothing and medicine to children the addicts can take care of themselves..........

    October 8, 2013 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. cali girl

    A few years back a news report was done on certain States having "Pain Clinics" on every corner. These are not weed shops, but with the right amount of money you can obtain the prescription for any and all narcotics, just name what you want.
    This is abuse to the point that the crackdown from the feds are going to make more hoops for the legitimate pain sufferers to jump through.

    October 8, 2013 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. steve castleman

    Addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease. It's treatable. Perhaps not as successfully as one might like, but on a par with other chronic diseases that require substantial behavioral change, like diabetes and hypertension.

    Unfortunately, many people still don't believe addiction is a disease. That's why science-based education is so important.

    For a not-for-profit website that discusses the science of substance use and abuse in accessible English (how alcohol and drugs work in the brain; how addiction develops; why addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease; what parts of the brain malfunction as a result of substance abuse; how that malfunction skews decision-making and motivation, resulting in addict behaviors; why some get addicted while others don't; how treatment works; how well treatment works; why relapse is common; what family and friends can do; etc.) please click on http://www.AddictScience.com.

    October 8, 2013 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. HH

    The only people the state polices are LEGITIMATE patients who must use painkillers. The states treat US like criminals.

    October 8, 2013 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Matt

    So, you can get a prescription for one deadly pain-killer. But you'll need a prescription for naloxone so you can safely take the 1st prescription. And you'll need some antibiotics to keep you safe from infection. Here's a prescription for nexium, just in case you get heartburn from eating too much. And here is a prescription for cialis, so you can bone more effectively. (This is pretty much how a trip to the doctor goes these days)

    October 9, 2013 at 00:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. werter2352345

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    October 9, 2013 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
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      October 9, 2013 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
  8. Lol

    Sorry, this is so sad its funny...in a pathetic way. Listen, I live in the state with the worst numbers-and ya know what? Addicts are GREAT for my towns economy. Half the downtown seems to be non profits, and let me let you in on a dirty little secret NOBODY wants you to know: non profits LOVE addicts, and the worse the numbers, the better the grant. I lived for years in a 'residence for women' run by a verY Well known non profit and when me and other residents reported prescription drug abuse, we were branded troublemakers. Even worse, and what astonished us at the time, was how management absolutely catered to those residents who were going to the ER for fake pains then coming back and selling the pills openly and by that I mean both inside the building and even right there on the stairs. As you would expect, the place deteriorated. And the worse it got, the more money the non-profit got from HUD, ostenstibly to deal with the 'difficult' homeless who were suddenly the norm. What a joke. The punchline? They did such a wonderful job of ruining the reputation of what HAD been a decent, safe, and clean place to live that they are now housing-guess what?-a drug treatment center. Because of the bad, bad women who do these things. So instead of having a bunch of Young Working women paying 250 a month, its a bunch of poor, sad drug addicts trying to rehab after life just 'didnt show them the proper way to live'...and uncle sam now gets to pay a whole lot more than 250 per resident. And aren't they angels to show these poor sad souls (fresh out of jail or awaiting sentencing for drug crimes) the difference between right and wrong? Sure does pay. It must. They employ grant writers, so many that they have offices in what used to be residence rooms. Sobriety isn't paying the bills here, folks...just think about it.

    October 10, 2013 at 01:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Portland tony

    States rather than set up expensive rehab facilities, just send poor non violent addicts to minimum security jail or prison. They're called a poor man's rehab centers where they get three hots and a cot, allowed to sober up, attend a few 12 step meetings, and if their habit isn't ingrained from long term use, they can walk out sober when their sentence is served and find out they now have a criminal record and of course can't get a decent job or support themselves let alone a family legally! Talk about a "Breaking Bad" syndrome.

    October 10, 2013 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. ryertyerty56567

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    DENOUNCE: MASIVE ASESINATION WITH NANO TECHENOLOGY IN DRUGS USE.

    REMEMEBER THE SPEECH TO HUGO CHAVEZ FRIAZ.

    WE HAVE VENEZUELANS !!!!!!!!! INTERVENED !!!!!!!!!!! UNTIL THE TUETANOS (ESPINAL).

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    DENOUNCE: MASIVE ASESINATION WITH NANO TECHENOLOGY IN DRUGS USE.

    REMEMEBER THE SPEECH TO HUGO CHAVEZ FRIAZ.

    WE HAVE VENEZUELANS !!!!!!!!! INTERVENED !!!!!!!!!!! UNTIL THE TUETANOS (ESPINAL).

    NANOTECHNOLOGY TO MANIPULATE HUMANS WITH BIOLOGICAL VOLTAIC TENSION.

    DENOUNCE: MASIVE ASESINATION WITH NANO TECHENOLOGY IN DRUGS USE.

    REMEMEBER THE SPEECH TO HUGO CHAVEZ FRIAZ.

    WE HAVE VENEZUELANS !!!!!!!!! INTERVENED !!!!!!!!!!! UNTIL THE TUETANOS (ESPINAL).

    NANOTECHNOLOGY TO MANIPULATE HUMANS WITH BIOLOGICAL VOLTAIC TENSION.

    DENOUNCE: MASIVE ASESINATION WITH NANO TECHENOLOGY IN DRUGS USE.

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    October 11, 2013 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 11, 2013 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 13, 2013 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. gualm

    My best friend deals w this personally & the doctor and the system are 2 of the primary culprits. One they give my friends husband a 90 day supply of pain meds which if she didn't hide them from him he would use in the first month he receives his prescription. The Dr. believes his pain is not as severe but doesn't reduce the amt he uses, although she did cut one of the pain meds he was giving him. But still feels it is ok for him to fill 150 at a time. They put more restrictions on the new diet pill. I had to only use a specific online pharmacy & only could get refills from that pharmacy & my doctor had to not only give a script but sign paperwork. Never heard too many people od on diet pills but i felt the restrictions on this were way stricter than obtaining oxycontin. Either way I think it is intentional to keep people fat, sick & addicted. Its one vicious cycle. As we fixate on trying to keep a job, lose weight or waffling around high on oxy, our politicians and their corporate cronies are raping us, this country & other countries around the world. But if everyone is left in a robotic stupor concerned only about our individual, materialistic and self-absorb world we tend to not care about anything, not even ourselves. Self-gratification is a ship for fools.

    October 15, 2013 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jane SMith

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    October 19, 2013 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.