Wisconsin Overdose Deaths Rise While Prescriptions Fall

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

According to Wisconsin state records, the number of citizens dying of overdose deaths continues to rise even as the number of prescriptions fall.

The information, which was collected and reported by Wisconsin’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, reveals that 17.5 million fewer prescriptions were dispensed from April to June of this year, constituted a decrease in 12% when compared to the same period in 2016.

Despite this decrease in the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed, the rate of deaths from opioid overdose has roughly doubled over the course of the past decade. Some have voiced concerns that the increasing rate in the number of deaths from opioid overdose might be caused by over-prescription.

In order to combat opioid over-prescription, the doctors on Wisconsin’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse, which was established by Governor Scott Walker in 2013, have been making an effort to educate prescribers on the proper use of opioid medications, as well as alternative pain management strategies. The task force is also working to provide easy access to data regarding opioid-related injuries and deaths.

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Additional measures have been implemented in the badger state, as well, such as prescribing guidelines from the state medical examining board, which include searching prescription databases before prescribing opioids to ensure patients are not going to different doctors so as to receive multiple prescriptions.

Details from a September 2016 report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services paints a grim picture, revealing that since 2005, drug overdose deaths had increased 70 % in the state. The report revealed that 20 % of overdoses in Wisconsin were caused by prescription opioids, while 16 % were attributed to heroin, and 39 % were the result of unidentified substances.

Authorities in the state say that prescription opioids are easily accessed, as they obtainable legally with a prescription, and this can lead to a higher rate of abuse than other illegal substances.