State News

Number of opioid doses dispensed in Wisconsin decreases, according to new data

New data shows the number of opioids dispensed in Wisconsin has decreased sharply, though opioid death rates have risen rapidly over the past decade.

Image By: Theda Berry

Amid the ongoing opioid epidemic in Wisconsin and nationwide, new data shows the number of opioids dispensed in the state has decreased sharply.

There have been 17.5 million fewer opioid doses distributed between April and June of 2017 than in the same period of last year, according to data recently released by the Wisconsin’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, who has been a leading advocate for combating the epidemic in the state, called the data “very promising.”

“This represents a 12% decrease from the [same period of the] previous year,” Nygren said in a statement. “This 12% decrease helps close the door to future addiction.”

Despite the promising data, the rate of opioid overdose deaths in the state has rapidly increased over the past decade, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

The increase could be related to over-prescribing opioids, some doctors say. At the same time, some patients refrain from giving up their pills once they start taking them, even after they feel no more pain, Senator Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, said on Friday during the meeting of Governor Scott Walker’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse.

The state medical examining board has released new guidelines for prescribing, which will now require doctors to check prescription databases before ordering opioids to limit patients from obtaining various prescriptions from multiple different doctors.

“If we don’t change the cultural expectations of patients, [overprescribing] is not going to get fixed,” Dr. Timothy Westlake told the Associated Press. “The whole premise that chronic pain is treated well with opioids is false. That’s the fallacy the medical community bought 20 years ago.”

The release of the data comes one day before an event related to the opioid epidemic will take place at the Capitol.

Bonnie Sesolak and Bev Kelley-Miller, who recently lost their children to drug overdoses, will visit the Capitol tomorrow to display their handmade quilt, honoring the “real faces of addiction, sadness, and hope.” It will be an opportunity for families to commemorate their lost loved ones, as well as those currently incarcerated and in recovery, according to a release from Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton.

Erpenbach will lead the event in the Senate Parlor from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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