CONCORD — A Centers for Disease Control report says New Hampshire ranks third in the country for the number of prescriptions for long acting and high-dose pain killers, although on the low end of the number of prescriptions written per capita.
The nationwide study looked at the number of prescriptions written for opioids such as Oxycontin and fentanyl in 2012.
While New Hampshire medical providers wrote 72 and 82 prescriptions per 100 residents, other states – mostly in the South and Midwest – had far higher numbers.
However New Hampshire and Maine were among the top states for the number of prescriptions for long-lasting and high-dose opioids written for state residents.
“The rising rate of substance use in New Hampshire, especially for highly addictive opioids, is one of our most serious public health and safety challenges,” said Gov. Maggie Hassan Wednesday. “Prescription drug abuse, which is often linked to heroin use, remains high, and the Centers for Disease Control report reinforces this alarming trend.”
The state recently approved a prescription drug monitoring plan, which is about to begin collecting data. New Hampshire is one of the last states in the country to implement such a program.
Hassan said the state is working to have the monitoring implemented as soon as possible.
“I recently joined my fellow New England governors to announce a regional strategy to address this growing problem that is affecting communities throughout our region and country, not just New Hampshire,” she said. “And I am working closely with the law enforcement community, health care professionals, and other public safety and public health officials to continue to enhance the state’s response strategy.”
Substance abuse strains state families, hurts worker productivity and undermines communities’ safety Hassan said.
The CDC Vital Signs report shows health care providers in the highest prescribing state, Alabama, wrote almost three times as many opioid prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state, Hawaii. Most of the highest prescribing states are in the South.
“Prescription drug overdose is epidemic in the United States,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “States and practices where prescribing rates are highest need to take a particularly hard look at ways to reduce the inappropriate prescription of these dangerous drugs.”