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Paul Rhien
505-470-2290 Office

Reducing Prescription Painkiller Deaths

April 10, 2018 - Opioid Safety - Awareness

This white paper evaluates each state's progress in fighting this epidemic.Today, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced that a recent report from the National Safety Council says New Mexico is one of only thirteen states and Washington, D.C., given its highest mark of “Improving” in strengthening laws and regulations to reduce prescription painkiller deaths.

States were given a rating of “Improving,” “Lagging”, or “Failing” based on evaluation of actions taken in six key areas in the fight against the opioid epidemic. New Mexico is one of only two states that has implemented all six key actions recommended to reduce prescription painkiller deaths.

The National Safety Council’s evaluation is based on the following six indicators that could have immediate and sustained impact addressing the opioid epidemic:

  1. Mandating prescriber education
  2. Implementing opioid prescribing guidelines
  3. Integrating Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs into clinical settings
  4. Improving data collection and sharing
  5. Treating opioid overdose
  6. Increasing availability of opioid use disorder treatment

Only one other state, Nevada, also met all six indicators.

“We are working hard to reduce drug overdose deaths in New Mexico, including from prescription opioids,” said Lynn Gallagher, NMDOH Cabinet Secretary. “It is clear that we still have work to do, and we are committed to reducing the loss of life to opioid overdose and ending the tragic impact that these drugs have on our families and communities.”

Governor Susana Martinez has made drug overdose prevention a major priority of her administration and has implemented comprehensive solutions to fight drug abuse in New Mexico. Under her administration, New Mexico:

  • strengthened Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) laws to require health care providers to check the database when prescribing opioids, leading to fewer opportunities for someone addicted to opioids to go from doctor to doctor for drugs;
  • became the first state to require all local and state law enforcement agencies to provide officers with naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses;
  • expanded legislation allowing both pharmacists and law enforcement to dispense naloxone without a prescription -- expanding access to the life-saving drug;
  • and removed prior authorization for Suboxone, expanded the number of methadone clinics, and the number of these clinics accepting Medicaid.

As a result of these measures, prescriptions of opioids are down across New Mexico:

  • The total volume of opioids (measured in morphine milligram equivalents or MME), dispensed in New Mexico fell by 11% between the 4th quarter of 2016 and the 4th quarter of 2017.
  • The number of patients receiving high-dose prescriptions fell by 15% over the same period.
  • The number of patients receiving concurrent benzodiazepines and opioid prescriptions for 10 days or more in the quarter (making them at higher risk of overdose) fell by 17%.
  • Approximately half of all drug overdose deaths in New Mexico involve prescription opioids.

The National Safety Council released their report last week at the National Rx Drug and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, where NMDOH officials participated in a national discussion about effective prevention and treatment tools and resources.

The report can be found on the Prescription Nation 2018: Facing America's Opioid Epidemic website.

Additionally, the NMDOH site has more information on Prescription Opioid Safety, Harm Reduction, and Substance Abuse Epidemiology.


Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact Paul Rhien at 505-470-2290 (Office) with your questions.


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