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David Morgan
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Steady Improvements in Safer Prescribing

January 14, 2019 - Harm Reduction - Information

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) today announces the release of its latest state quarterly prescribing report that shows a 14.9 percent decrease of prescribing high dose opioids in the state.

The numbers come from the Board of Pharmacy’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) database, which is required for use by healthcare providers to check a patient’s prescription history before prescribing opioid and benzo-diazepines. Opioids are a class of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, codeine and morphine, all of which can cause addiction.

The latest report covers the third quarter of 2018, and like the second quarter report released in the Opioid Prescribing Measures Show Improvement article last October, it shows significant year-to-year declines from the 2017 third quarter report that include:

  • The number of patients receiving high dose benzodiazepines (medications such as valium, and Xanax) decreased by 13.7 percent.
  • Patients with overlapping opioid prescriptions from different prescribers decreased by 21.1 percent.
  • Patients with overlapping prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines decreased by 20.4 percent over the previous year.
  • The number of new potential chronic opioid patients (those with at least 30 days of opioids in the quarter and none in the prior quarter) declined by 17.7 percent.

“The changes that we have seen in the last year are encouraging signs that our state policies are having a positive impact,” said NMDOH Secretary-Designate Kathyleen Kunkel. “We lead the nation in implementing some of these policies and must continue to take bold action if we are to substantially reduce drug overdose death in New Mexico.”

While the trends are positive, the drug overdose death rate in New Mexico remains far too high, which emphasizes the need for more and continued work.

Things the community can do to prevent drug overdose include:

  • People who are concerned about their use of controlled or illicit substances should see their healthcare provider and ask for help.
  • People with multiple prescriptions (of any sort) should talk to their healthcare providers (prescribers and pharmacists) about all medications they take.

Prescribers and pharmacists are expected to

  • Consistently check the PMP database
  • Use caution when prescribing high-risk medications.
  • Apply guidelines based on clinical knowledge and the needs of individual patients.

For information on prescription opioid safety visit the Opioid Safety section of our website.  Additional information can be found on the DOH Harm Reduction page, and New Mexico substance use data and statistics (including the 2018Q3 Quarterly Measures Report) can be found also on our website at the Substance Abuse Epidemiology page.


Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.


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