A new law to rein in "pill mills" in Florida cut overdose deaths by nearly 17 percent by 2012, reversing a huge spike that had sent deaths soaring by more than 60 percent, federal health officials said Tuesday. Similar laws could help reduce deaths and misuse of painkillers in many more U.S. states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The CDC found huge state to state variations in prescribing of opioid painkillers. Doctors wrote three times as many painkiller prescriptions per person in Alabama as in Hawaii, and 259 million prescriptions for these powerful, addictive and potentially deadly drugs were written in 2012, CDC found. “We don’t think it’s because people in some states have more pain than people in other states,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters. “One thing we want to see is more effective state monitoring programs.” New York passed a law in 2012 requiring prescribers to check a database where prescriptions were registered and by 2013, there was a 75 percent drop in patients “doctor shopping,” CDC reported.
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- Maggie Fox