Be the most informed person in the room with Newsy's free e-newsletter

View our privacy policy:

Painkiller Prescriptions Highly Varied From State To State

The number of painkiller prescriptions issued varies widely from state to state, according to a new CDC report.

Big inconsistencies in the amount of powerful painkillers prescribed from state to state are worrying officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

In a recent study, the CDC reported, "Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills."

The report pointed out doctors in Southern states prescribed more painkillers than other states. Alabama and Tennessee saw the most prescriptions: 143 for every 100 people in the state. 

Health officials are worried because an increase in painkiller prescribing is a key driver of the increase in prescription overdoses.

In fact, NPR reports more people in the U.S. die from prescription drug overdoses each year than in car crashes.

USA Today points out doctors in Hawaii, the state with the fewest prescriptions, wrote 52 for every 100 people — a little more than a third of the states with the highest rates.

So where can the CDC go from here? Officials point to Florida as a possible example to follow. 

The New York Times reports Florida started making legal and regulatory reforms back in 2010 to curb deaths from prescription drug overdose. And the CDC says the reforms worked, as deaths from overdose fell by 23 percent over the following two years. 

The drug that varied the most from state to state was oxymorphone, prescribed 22 times as much in Tennessee as in Minnesota. (Via Flickr / e-Magine Art)

The CDC issued a list of recommendations to reduce irregularities, including monitoring patients who might be abusing prescription drugs and screening patients for mental health problems. 

Featured Stories
Thousands gather for the women's march in D.C.

A Look At Some Of The Women's Marches Around The Globe

Photos of women who are going to the Women's March on Washington

Here's What You Need To Know About The Women's March On Washington

A woman holds up signs at Donald Trump's inauguration.

Donald Trump Is Making America Protest Again

Want to see more stories like this?
Like Newsy on Facebook for More Coverage