Mary Fallin, Governor

from “A State Plan:  Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse in Oklahoma”

Fellow Oklahomans:

During the past few years, Oklahoma has been working diligently with multiple partners to reduce the impact of prescription drug abuse on our state, its people, families, and businesses. Oklahoma has consistently ranked among the highest in the nation for overdose deaths and non-medical use of prescription painkillers. Our efforts to reverse such negative trends are beginning to make a difference. Oklahoma’s unintentional opioid overdose deaths in 2014 were at their lowest rate in four years, and reported use of painkillers for non-medical reasons has decreased. We envisioned such success when beginning this initiative, but we also realize there is much work still to be done.

In 2013, the Oklahoma Prevention Leadership Collaborative Prescription Drug Planning Workgroup released a state plan with a goal to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths. Recommendations focused on prescription tracking and monitoring (including Prescription Monitoring Program legislation), prescriber education, public education, disposal/storage for the public and for providers, regulatory/enforcement, and treatment/interventions. Based upon the successes of the project thus far, we are now embarking on an expanded, five year plan to build upon and ensure the continued success of the state plan to prevent prescription drug abuse
and misuse.

The group has developed recommendations that prioritize the need for substance abuse prevention and interventions, including treating pregnant women addicted to opioids; promoting opioid alternatives to treat chronic pain; and expanding access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone. Combatting prescription drug misuse/abuse must remain a public health priority. Although Oklahoma was one of only 12 states that saw a decrease in the rate of drug overdose deaths from 2013-2014, Oklahoma still had
the 10th highest drug overdose death rate in the nation. From 2013-2014, the unintentional prescription opioid overdose death rate in Oklahoma decreased 9%. However, Oklahoma is still in the midst of a prescription drug abuse epidemic. Of the more than 3,500 unintentional poisoning deaths in Oklahoma from 2010-2014, 74% involved at least one prescription drug. Opioids are the most common class of drug involved in overdose deaths in Oklahoma and were involved in 85% of prescription drug-related overdose deaths. There were 427 opioid involved overdose deaths in 2014.

A special acknowledgement of my gratitude goes to law enforcement, prevention and treatment providers, legislative leaders, community organizations/associations, tribes, health care groups, state agencies, and others who have prioritized this issue and taken action to reduce prescription drug misuse/abuse in Oklahoma. And for those who have friends or family members impacted by prescription drug misuse/abuse, we know we must continue to advocate for treatment and prevention wherever we can. The prescription drug abuse epidemic is one of our foremost priorities and we call upon every Oklahoman to join this effort.