OBN: Oklahoma Opioid Prescription Rates Declining
OKLAHOMA CITY - The number of opioids prescribed by doctors in the state is on the decline, according to numbers from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
Millions of opioid prescriptions are picked up each year at pharmacies across the state.
In 2017, the Bureau of Narcotics reported 4,250,247 prescriptions filled compared to 3,757,886 in 2018. That's more than an 11 percent drop.
“It’s following a trend that we are seeing in some of the other categories over the last couple of years,” said Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
Overdose deaths in the state are also on the decline. In 2018, 582 people lost their lives to opioids. It’s the lowest since 2008 where 587 lives were lost.
Officials credit a number of things including education and changes in law.
“Some states including Oklahoma, have passed new legislation where certain patients under certain conditions limit how much doctors and prescribe,” said Woodward. “We saw that late in 2018 where for acute pain you can only get a seven-day initial prescription instead of 30 days.”
Oklahoma continues its prescription monitoring program, in touch with other states nationwide. Its technology is making a difference.
“A doctor in Massachusetts can look up tonight that patient’s history and see that this afternoon in Oklahoma they just picked up a prescription,” said Woodward. “That is helping doctors maybe not prescribe to patients today the way they would of maybe five or 10 years ago with that information at hand.”
The crisis far from over.
“Whether it is a big drop or a small drop, we will take that as a victory,” said Woodward.
Officials expect the trend to continue into 2019.