Delaware officials on Wednesday announced that, six months after the Department of State enacted new prescribing solutions, prescriptions written for opioid pain medications.
“Limiting the availability of prescribed opioids that end up being diverted, sold and illegally abused is an important part of our fight to stem the tide of opioid addiction in Delaware,” said Gov. John Carney. “Opioid prescription rates remain too high in Delaware, but this is an issue we will continue to address in a comprehensive way.”
According to statistics from the Division of Professional Regulation, which gives licenses to those permitted to prescribe opioids, a 12-percent drop in opioid prescriptions was evident for the same period this year when compared to last year.
The number of patients being treated during that same period year-over-year also dropped by eight percent. The new regulations took effect April 1, and were designed to allow closer monitoring and control of opioid use by patients, according to the announcement.
“Although these are early results, they are encouraging,” said Attorney General Matt Denn. “The Secretary of State and the Division of Professional Regulation deserve a lot of credit for putting these new regulations into effect – they placed Delaware in the top tier of states nationally with respect to requiring the responsible prescription of opioids."
“A significant reduction in the number of pills being prescribed means a better chance that fewer end up on the street,” said Secretary of State Jeff Bullock. “Just as important, fewer people being prescribed opioids is a sign that medical professionals in Delaware may be changing their prescribing practices and relying less heavily on highly addictive opioids when better alternatives exist. Seven months into our new regulatory framework for opioids, we are seeing the results we had hoped for.”
Key elements of the new regulations included:
- First-time opioid prescriptions not exceeding a one week supply.
- If further opioid prescriptions are deemed necessary, further action is required, including a physical exam with discussion of relevant patient history and the risks of opioids, and a check of the statewide Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) database.
- In addition, the state's new PMP Advisory Committee has begun the process of analyzing the practices of individual prescribers to ensure that they are following state laws and licensing standards.