Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths Decline in Oklahoma

October 21, 2015

The number of Oklahomans dying from unintentional prescription drug overdoses has dropped to its lowest level in eight years.

Preliminary data from the state Health Department show 510 people died from unintentional prescription drug overdoses in 2014 compared to 538 people in 2013, a decrease of 5 percent.

The Oklahoman reports the rate of 13.2 deaths from prescription drug overdose per 100,000 people in 2014 is the lowest the state has seen since 2007.

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Director Darrell Weaver said he kept an eye on the drug overdose trends over the last 10 years.

“Sometimes, I felt like, ‘Oh my gosh – where’s the ceiling here?”‘ Weaver said. “And anytime we can see the trend start the other way, I think that’s a very positive sign.”

Oklahoma has seen some of the highest rates of painkiller abuse and deaths in the past few years. It tied with Kentucky for the third-highest rate of painkillers prescribed in 2012.

Over the past several years, officials have praised the state’s prescription drug monitoring program as a key resource in fighting abuse. The program tracks prescriptions filled for schedule II, III, IV and V, which includes powerful painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

In November, state law will require physicians to regularly look into the system when prescribing these drugs.

“It is my hope it will help to reduce prescription overdose deaths and prescription drug abuse in general,” Gov. Mary Fallin said.

This past week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing that information from such monitoring programs can be used to find and follow patterns that suggest abuse or misuse of prescription drugs.

Drug overdose is the leading cause of death and injury in the U.S., often because of prescription drug abuse and misuse, according to the CDC.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.