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Delaware Tenth Highest for Rx Drug Overdoses

A report on national prescription drug abuse ranks Delaware tenth highest for the number of drug overdoses. At 16.6 per 100,000 population, the Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic report says that number has doubled since 1999. The increase is a national trend, but, unfortunately, Delaware is exceeding the average increase.

The highest number of deaths per capita comes from West Virginia, at over 28 per 100,000. The lowest measured was from North Dakota, at less than 4.

With reported prescription drug overdoses outnumbering heroin and cocaine combined, the rise is a significant problem. Even considering that illegal drug overdoses that do not lead to death might be concealed by users, it’s plain there is an unacceptably high level of misuse of prescription medications.

The report, at Healthy America comes with a list of recommendations, although our state is already following eight of the ten:

* Existence of Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP): Has an active program
* PDMP: Requires mandatory utilization by prescribers
* Doctor Shopping Laws: Has a law specifying that patients are prohibited from withholding information about prior prescriptions from their healthcare provider
* Support for Substance Abuse Treatment Services: Participating in Medicaid Expansion, which helps expand coverage of substance abuse services and treatment
* Prescriber Education Required or Recommended (one of two Delaware doesn’t do)
* Good Samaritan Laws: Has a law to provide a degree of immunity or mitigation of sentencing for individuals seeking to help themselves or others experiencing an overdose
* Rescue Drug Laws: Has a law to expand access to, and use of naloxone, a prescription drug that can help counteract an overdose, by laypeople (the second on this list we do not have)
* Physical Exam Requirement: Has a law requiring healthcare providers to physically examine patients or have a bona fide patient-physician relationship before prescribing a controlled substance
* Requirement: Has a law requiring or permitting a pharmacist to require an ID prior to dispensing a controlled substance
* Lock-In Programs: Has a pharmacy lock-in program under the state's Medicaid plan where individuals suspected of misusing controlled substances must use a single prescriber and pharmacy


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