The fastest growing drug problem in the United States is the abuse of prescription medications. Poisonings are the leading cause of unintentional home injury deaths for those ages 15 to 59, largely resulting from unintentional drug overdoses of prescription medications. Drug overdose death rates have more than tripled since 1990.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyday in the United States, 105 people die from drug overdose and 6,748 are seen in emergency rooms because of a misuse or abuse of drugs. Almost 9 of 10 poisoning deaths are because of drugs.
Where the Drugs Come From
Almost all prescription drugs involved in overdoses come from prescriptions originally; very few come from pharmacy theft. However, once they are prescribed and dispensed, prescription drugs are frequently diverted to people using them without prescriptions. More than three out of four people who misuse prescription painkillers use drugs prescribed to someone else.<
Definitions You Need To Know
Most people take prescription medications responsibly; however there has been a steady increase in the non-medical use of prescription drugs. The most commonly abused medications are the class of drugs known as prescription painkillers, which include drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone.
Some States Have A Bigger Problem With Prescription Painkillers Than Others.
What is Nebraska Doing?
Senator Steve Lathrop introduced LB1072 which would adopt the Prescription Monitoring and Health Information Exchange Act which would create a prescription monitoring program to collect, manage, analyze and provide prescription information. Under the bill, it would be a part of a health information exchange.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are state-run electronic databases used to track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs to patients. They are designed to monitor this information for suspected abuse or diversion—that is, the channeling of the drug into an illegal use—and can give a prescriber or pharmacist critical information regarding a patient's controlled substance prescription history. This information can help prescribers and pharmacists identify high-risk patients who would benefit from early interventions.
The Nebraska Regional Poison Center offers these tips on medications:
Sources: Nebraska Regional Poison Center
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention