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Drug Overdose Highest in WV

A recently published report, Prescription Durg Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic list West Virginia as the state with the highest per capita number of deaths from drug overdoses.

At 28.9 deaths per 100,000 residents, WV has more than six times the rate of the state with the fewest, North Dakota, with 3.9.

Even more troubling is the factors listed in the report that are meant to reduce drug mortality are more frequent in WV than in ND. This seems to imply that the things we do to reduce overdoses, especially by prescription drugs, aren’t as useful as we thought. Each of the 50 states was given a one out of ten score. The score used factors like prescription tracking and medical staff education as positive items.

West Virginia, despite being the worst state for overall overdose deaths, got 8 out of 10, while North Dakota, the safest state, only scored a six out of ten. Plainly, there are other influencers.

The items looked at included:
• Rescue Drug Laws: Just over one-third of states (17 and Washington, D.C.) have a law in place to expand access to, and use of naloxone - a prescription drug that can be effective in counteracting an overdose - by lay administrators.
• Good Samaritan Laws: Just over one-third of states (17 and Washington, D.C.) have laws in place to provide a degree of immunity from criminal charges or mitigation of sentencing for individuals seeking to help themselves or others experiencing an overdose.
• Medical Provider Education Laws: Fewer than half of states (22) have laws that require or recommend education for doctor and other healthcare providers who prescribe prescription pain medication.
• Support for Substance Abuse Treatment: Nearly half of states (24 and Washington, D.C.) are participating in Medicaid Expansion - which helps expand coverage of substance abuse services and treatment.
• ID Requirement: 32 states have a law requiring or permitting a pharmacist to require an ID prior to dispensing a controlled substance.
• Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs: While nearly every state (49) has a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to help identify "doctor shoppers," problem prescribers and individuals in need of treatment, these programs vary dramatically in funding, use and capabilities. For instance, only 16 states require medical providers to use PMDPs

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