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Prescription Drug Abuse a Deadly and Growing Problem

By Daniel Cherry | Published 18 Jul 2012 04:27pm | comments
Every 19 minutes someone in the U.S. dies from a prescription drug overdose. MPB's Daniel Cherry has more on how law enforcement and health care providers in Mississippi are teaming up to fight the drug epidemic.
 
Accidental drug overdoses have passed car accidents as the number one cause of unintentional death. Dr. Steve Demetropoulos, President of the Mississippi State Medical Association, knows that's due in part to a mentality of, 'It came from the doctor so it must be safe.' 
 
"People think, if one is good, two is better and three will be great. Unfortunately we don't know how the medication is going to interact with each person. You may be able to tolerate two, but somebody else may not be able to tolerate one."
 
Each year, more people die from painkillers than cocaine and heroin combined. Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner, Marshall Fisher, says more than nine million dosage units of the painkiller hydrocodone were dispensed in Mississippi...last month. Fisher thinks a big part of the problem is doctor shopping.
 
"An individual had been to 41 different prescribers in about a 14 month period. Either they have a family member who intervenes and gets into rehab, they get arrested, which is a form of intervention, and the other way it ends is, sadly, with a toe tag."
 
Law enforcement, health care providers, and policy makers gathered yesterday in Jackson to discuss strategies to fight prescription drug abuse. Gregory Davis is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.
 
"It's a nationwide problem, and we all have a responsibility to be aware of prescription drug abuse and, also, take away that it's something that we can stop and we need to address it as a high priority in our state."
 
Leaders say the most effective strategy could be to expand usage of an online prescription drug registry that tracks who's getting drugs to eliminate doctor shopping.

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