LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Overdose deaths involving prescription Opioids have quadrupled since 1999 in the U.S.
And so have sales of these prescription drugs. However a new finding in Wisconsin is showing a different trend.
While Opioid prescribing has fueled the epidemic, a report published by Wisconsin's Controlled Substance Board shows a ten percent drop in the number of Opioid prescriptions written and filled compared to this time last year.
"Now that the data has come out, it's become clear that we're over prescribing," said Chris Eberlein, an emergency physician with Gundersen Health System.
That's because the prescription drug monitoring database (PDMD), which tracks patients prescription history, has not been widely used in Wisconsin. But that will all change.
"All prescribers of controlled substances, so not just narcotics, so you're talking any of the stimulants, obviously narcotics, and some of the sleeping aids, are all being required that the prescriber check the database before they prescribe," Eberlein said.
From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription Opioids.
"When you talk about the statistics of Opioid overdoses, a good chunk of those are prescription drug overdoses, heroin is smaller actually than the prescription drug overdoses," said Cheryl Hancock, executive director of the Coulee Council on Addictions.
But now that doctors will be required to use the PDMD, those statistics are expected to change.
"Because they are seeing the results of doctors entering in that information and then are being much more conservative about making those prescriptions," Hancock said.
Thanks to the advancement of technology, doctors say the database makes it much easier to prevent over prescribing.
"It will have a more complete picture, including more of a graphical interface, which would be nicer, and it will allow your administrator or your local director access to be able to see prescription habits of all the providers under them," Eberlein said.
In June, only 14 percent of doctors in the state used the database.
Pharmacists however have been required to check the database for more than a year.
Doctors will be required to the use the prescription drug monitoring database by next April.
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