Oklahoma will receive more than $1 million over the next three years to help prevent prescription drug overdoses and address patient and prescribing behaviors that drive it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.
The CDC grant will help state agencies work together to improve the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and also analyze data to identify prescription drug abuse hot spots, among other trends.
“Prescription drug abuse is a scourge that has overtaken drugs like meth when it comes to harming the health of Oklahomans,” Gov. Mary Fallin said. “These additional resources will help us continue to strengthen successful state programs and ultimately save lives.”
Oklahoma has the sixth-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States, according to the CDC.
In 2011, the state had about 19 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people, with 703 people dying that year from drug overdose. The U.S. rate was about 13 deaths per 100,000 people.
Additionally, opioid prescribing rates in Oklahoma are among the highest in the country, according to the CDC.
In 2012, Oklahoma providers wrote 128 opioid pain reliever prescriptions per 100 people, the fifth-highest prescribing rate in the country and far above the U.S. rate of 83 prescriptions per 100 people.
The CDC announced Thursday that Oklahoma joins four other states — Kentucky, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia — who will receive money to improve their prescription drug monitoring programs and conduct rigorous state policy evaluations.
Oklahoma’s prescription drug monitoring program is one of the few in the nation that updates in real time.
State health commissioner Terry Cline said the money will be used to improve that program, making it easier to analyze the data and share it with state agencies and physicians.
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