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State reports drop in opioid prescriptions and total pills

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The Delaware Department of State on Thursday reported a drop in the number prescriptions for opioid medications and the total quantity of opioids dispensed in the last 12 months.

The agency attributes the drop to a series of new regulations and a concerted effort by officials to crack down on the problem.

“The opioid epidemic continues to ravage families across our state and our nation, but numbers like these show that the public policies we have put in place are having a positive impact,” said Gov. John Carney. “Health care practitioners in Delaware are partners in the shared effort to overcome this crisis, and we are seeing the results of changes in prescribing practices that will, without question, save lives across our state.”

The Division of Professional Regulation reported a 14 percent drop in opioid prescriptions and 18 percent decline in the total amount of opioids dispensed.

The key regulations took effect on April 1, 2017. They established a tighter regiment for when and how much doctors can prescribe. It also required more routine checks of the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) database.

“The regulations are an important component of the state’s overall plan to address the prescription opioid epidemic, and we are pleased to see the regulations are having the intended effect of reducing the number of prescriptions written,” said Division of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “DPH and the Safe Prescribing Subcommittee of the Addiction Action Committee continue to partner with DPR to increase awareness among prescribers regarding the regulations, safe prescribing practices and alternatives to pain management.”

The regulations and other initiatives reflect a coalition between state government, advocates and public health organizations.

“Fewer prescriptions written and fewer pills dispensed mean fewer chances for Delawareans to become addicted to opioids, or for these dangerous drugs to be diverted for illegal use,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “The regulations we enacted last year to put limits on opioid prescriptions seem to be working. We hope that in the long term these trends will mean a reduction in opioid addiction and deaths.”

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