Opioid-overdose deaths in Arizona top 400 since June
40 percent of the people who are suspected of a drug overdose are already in a statewide database, called the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program.
But despite this number, only a quarter of the medical professionals who are prescribing opioids in Arizona check the database before writing a prescription, she said.
On Oct. 16, a new mandate went into effect that requires clinicians to check the database prior to prescribing opioids or benzodiazepines (drugs that enhance the action of neurotransmitters in the brain).
About 40 percent of patients registered in the database who had an overdose were prescribed both opioids and benzodiazepines, despite a high risk for complications if combined, she said.
Christ noted other states have implemented similar mandates, saying they reduce the number of opioids prescribed across the board.
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump declared the opioid overdose epidemic a national publichealth emergency.
In Arizona earlier this month, the time window for the state to collect opioid-related overdose information from first responders and health-care providers was pushed back to five days, from 24 hours.
Despite the less-frequent reports, Christ said, several facts have come to light about opioid abuse while combing through the data.
Men ages 25 to 29 are at the highest risk of opioid overdoses.
Most overdoses occur at home.
37 percent of people suspected of experiencing an overdose were prescribed an opioid less than two months earlier.
Chronic pain is the most cited symptom in people who experience a suspected overdose.
“ADHS will continue to monitor these indicators on a monthly basis to assess progress,” Christ said.
The state previously reported that at least 790 Arizonans died from an overdose of an opioid prescription last year.