David Morgan
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Pain Killer Prescriptions Decrease in 2013

May 7, 2014 - Opioid Safety - Awareness

The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy announce today a 10 percent decrease in the total amount of prescription opioids dispensed by pharmacies in New Mexico from 2012 to 2013.

Prescription opioids are strong pain relievers such as morphine or oxycodone. Non-medical use of these drugs has become a major problem in New Mexico and nationally over the past ten years.

The Board of Pharmacy’s Prescription Monitoring Program, which tracks controlled substance prescriptions filled in New Mexico, reports the amount of prescription pain relievers decreased, while the number of patients filling prescriptions for these drugs stayed the same.

“The decrease in prescribing pain medications in New Mexico is a step in the right direction,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “Small changes such as not prescribing 30 days of pain killers for three days of pain reduces the chances these drugs can be used for non-medical reasons, and we are making these changes without impacting New Mexicans in chronic pain from getting the treatment they need.”

New Mexico has the second highest overdose death rate in the country. In 2012, 486 New Mexicans died of drug overdose. More than half of these involved prescription drugs.

The New Mexico Board of Pharmacy regulates the pharmaceutical industry that includes licensing pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacist interns, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, public health clinics, drug research facilities and boarding homes.

The New Mexico Department of Health, the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy and the other medical profession licensing boards have been working to improve prescribing practices for these drugs. Licensing boards require prescribers to check the Prescription Monitoring Program and require additional education for prescribers on the treatment of chronic pain. The Department of Health has also been working to make naloxone, the antidote for opioid overdose, more available to patients and their families filling opioid prescriptions.

“While health care providers overwhelmingly support the Prescription Monitoring Program as an important tool for patient care while also helping to reduce the diversion of controlled substances, its use is now helping to define and reduce dangerous prescribing practices. That makes it all the more valuable.” said Carl Flansbaum, Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Director, New Mexico Board of Pharmacy.

The 10% decrease in total amount of opioid between 2012 and 2013 is measured using Milligram Morphine Equivalent (MME) per 100,000 population. Prescription opioids are standardized using MME because morphine is the standard for treatment of moderate to severe pain and is therefore used as a reference point for all other opioids.


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