"Far too many Utahns are losing their lives each year from misuse or abuse of prescription pain medications," said UDOH Executive Director Dr. David Patton. "We appreciate CDC's efforts to provide funding to states that are working to get this epidemic under control. In the past, when funding has been available, we've had success in decreasing these deaths. This grant truly has the potential to save lives here in Utah."
The funding will help the UDOH to enhance and maximize the Utah Controlled Substance Database and conduct robust evaluations of the state’s naloxone access law and the “Good Samaritan” law, both passed during the 2014 General Session of the Utah Legislature. H.B. 119 allows physicians to prescribe naloxone (an opioid “antidote” or rescue medication) to third parties and permits these individuals to administer the medication to the victim without legal liability. A third party is usually a caregiver to a person at risk for an overdose. H.B. 11, also known as the “Good Samaritan” law, allows bystanders to report an overdose without fearing criminal prosecution for illegal possession of a controlled substance or illicit drug.
Data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) show:
• An average of 21 adults died each month from prescription drug overdose in Utah. Oxycodone, methadone, and hydrocodone are the top three prescription pain medications that contributed to these deaths.
• Utah has the fifth highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States. In 2011, Utah had 19.5 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people compared to 13.2 deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. In 2012, 261 people died from prescription pain medication overdoses in Utah.
• Opioid prescribing rates in Utah are higher than the U.S rate. In 2012, Utah providers wrote 85.8 opioid pain reliever prescriptions per 100 people (individuals may have had more than one opioid pain reliever prescribed to them), the twenty-second highest prescribing rate in the country and above the U.S. rate (82.5/100 people).
• 24.5% of Utahns reported using some type of prescribed opioid during the previous year. Most Utahns who die from a drug-related death suffer from chronic pain and take prescribed pain medications. (2008 BRFSS)
“Prescription drug overdose is an epidemic in the United States. We remain committed to providing states with the resources, expertise, and data they need to protect patients and save lives,” said CDC Director, Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “States are at the front lines of this epidemic, and as the nation’s public health agency CDC is committed to helping them any way we can.”
This new funding will give states a surge of resources and direct support from CDC to apply the most promising prevention strategies. Overall, CDC has committed $6 million over the next three years to help five states (Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia) improve their prescription drug monitoring programs, and conduct rigorous state policy evaluations to understand the most effective prevention strategies.
For more information about prescription drug overdoses in Utah, visit http://health.utah.gov/vipp/.
Violence and Injury Prevention Program
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