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Larissa Doucette

A number of policy and law enforcement measures helped reduce Florida’s prescription drug overdose death rate by 23% from 2010 to 2012, reports Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Following a 61% spike in Florida’s overdose death rate from 1,804 in 2003, to 2,905 in 2009, the state enacted laws requiring legitimate pain clinics to register with the state and dispensers to report to the state prescription monitoring program (PMP). These laws resulted in the shutdown of 250 rogue pain clinics by 2013, and a drop in the number of high-volume oxycodone prescribers, from 98 in 2010, to 13 in 2012, reports CDC. In 2013, the number of high-volume dispensers in Florida was zero.

CDC reports that nationally, 46 people die each day from prescription painkiller overdose, and health care providers wrote 259 million painkiller prescriptions in 2012. CDC released these numbers last week as part of a series of reports examining overdose death and prescribing rates per state. The agency is highlighting Florida’s success as evidence that laws and enforcement efforts can reduce overdose death rates. New York and Tennessee have also seen a drop in overdose deaths as a result of new laws and regulations, reports CDC. Among a host of measures, CDC is urging states to enforce tougher rules for pain clinics and consider ways to increase use of state PMPs.

NABP and its member boards have been working on several fronts to help combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic. The NABP PMP InterConnect® program now connects 25 state PMPs, allowing for the secure sharing of PMP data across state borders. In May 2014, NABP and the Anti-Diversion Industry Working Group, a consortium of pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, released a video called “Red Flags,” which helps pharmacists and other pharmacy personnel recognize signs of potential prescription drug abuse or diversion. In addition, NABP’s AWARXE® Prescription Drug Safety Program helps to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse and the importance of prevention efforts, including safe medication use, storage, and disposal.