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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Prescription drug abuse on the rise in Oklahoma

  • With concerns rising about prescription drug abuse, legislators are working to help prevent more unintentional deaths.
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  • With concerns rising about prescription drug abuse, legislators are working to help prevent more unintentional deaths.
     
    Gov. Mary Fallin praised these efforts in a statement.
     
    “My thanks go out to the Oklahoma Legislature for passing a series of bills that combat prescription drug abuse,” she said. “Nearly 8 percent of Oklahomans are abusing prescription painkillers, twice the national average.”
     
    In Pottawatomie County there were 62 unintentional drug deaths between 2007 and 2011, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health. The numbers peaked at 18 overdose deaths in 2009, and were lowest in 2011 with nine deaths.
     
    Adults between the ages of 35 and 54 have the highest overdose death rate of any group, according to these statistics.
     
    Additionally, the top three overdose drugs are alprazolam, which is generic Xanax, hydrocodone, which is generic Lortab, and oxycodone, a key ingredient in Percocet.
     
    Legislators have been working to reduce access to these drugs, as well as make it easier for agencies to research the issue.
     
    House Bill 1781 would allow agencies better access to information regarding overdoses, provided the patient’s privacy was still protected.
     
    House Bill 1782 would allow first responders to give opiate antagonists, which combat overdoses, without a prescription.
     
    House Bill 1783 would limit prescription refills on hydrocodone with another active ingredient to no more than two refills.
     
    The legislation passed the House and was passed to the Senate where a floor vote is expected soon.
     
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