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slides: New Numbers Break Down Pharmaceutical vs. Illicit Drug ODs in RI

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

 

With the most recent numbers this week for drug overdose deaths in the state for 2014 at 58, the Department of Health just recently released historical data, back to 2009, of the breakdown of those who overdosed from pharmaceutical and illicit drugs, and those who overdosed from just pharmaceuticals, and those just from illicit drugs.

See 2009 to 2014 Breakdown BELOW

"The term "pharmaceuticals" is used rather than "prescription drugs," because people can overdose on drugs not prescribed to them," said Department of Health spokesperson Jim Palmer.

On March 3, the Center for Disease Control issued a release, "Physicians are a leading source of prescription opioids for the highest-risk users." HEALTH Director Dr. Michael Fine sat down with GoLocal to discuss how HEALTH is addressing the prescription drug issue.

Dr. Fine on Record

"We've been working on this for a long time," said Department of HEALTH Director Dr. Michael Fine. "We've known about the prescription overdose deaths for several years."

"We know we have to own this -- these are all medicines prescribed by Rhode Island prescribers, filled by pharmacists. We've been more vigorous than usual, especially with physicians who come to our attention who may be overprescribing, and their prescribing habits around opioids," said Dr. Fine. "We want to make sure a person's pain is cared for, but at the same time, we're judicious in our use. If you have a bad back -- you have need a few weeks, not a month -- and it's in the medicine cabinet, and finds its way easier into the wrong hands."

HEALTH Director Dr. Michael Fine

Dr. Fine "We work with Dr. McDonald -- and took a leaf from Buddy's book, we go to an opening of an envelop. We go to hospitals, groups, and making sure they don't get in trouble with the Board. The Board is overseeing the chronic pain contracts -- for those who might need long-term opiates, to make sure that medicine aren't misused.

"In Rhode Island, we activated the prescription monitoring program, which gives the prescriber the opportunity to look at the prescriptions received by any patient.

If someone comes to me and claims of pain that requires pain that requires this, our expectation now is that the physician will consult the program to see if they didn't get the Rx from five different prescribers in the past five weeks

We all want to make things better for people, we don't want to be suspicious, but we all have been fooled from tie to time. We want to be able to care for people who need it. We've heard a fair bit from the recovery community that the way that most people got started is that people got started with Rx opioids -- and people thank us for checking that off as a manner of entry. We're concerned that people will make that switch.

Reaching Out to Public

Dr. Fine noted that HEALTH was embarking on a comprehensive PR campaign to address addiction. "There are billboards going up on [Route] 95 saying, "Addiction is a disease, treatment is effective, recovery is possible". People who are addicted, we are urging them with all the energy we have to get into treatment. And as dangerous as the prescription opioids are, street drugs are much more dangerous.

"This is a damned if you do, and dammed if you don't scenario. "People are dying from prescriptions drugs, people are dying from illicit. So the idea is with addiction, is to deal with it, and get people into treatment."

 

Related Slideshow: Breakdown of Overdose Deaths in RI - 2009 to 2014

Prev Next

2009

Total overdose deaths: 137

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 22

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 84

Illicit drugs only: 31

Prev Next

2010

Total overdose deaths: 152

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 36

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 82

Illicit drugs only: 24

Prev Next

2011

Total overdose deaths: 175

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 41

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 93

Illicit drugs only: 41

Prev Next

2012

Total overdose deaths: 182

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 34

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 85

Illicit drugs only: 63

Prev Next

2013 (First Half)

Total overdose deaths: 118*

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 23

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 40

Illicit drugs only: 55

*Data only available for first half of 2013

Prev Next

2014

Total overdose deaths: 

Both illicit and pharmaceutical drugs: 

Pharmaceutical drugs only: 

Illicit drugs only: 

 
 

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