KINGMAN, Ariz. — An Arizona county had more opioid prescriptions than people in 2016, an analysis of federal data by The Arizona Republic has found .
Mohave County had 127.5 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents that year, the newspaper said, citing numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show the vast rural county in northwest Arizona was the state’s most prolific opioid prescriptions county by that measure.
The CDC numbers also show that Arizona’s overall rate of 70.2 opioid prescriptions per 100 people is slightly above the U.S. average of 66.5 per 100 people.
Pain-pill prescriptions in Arizona dropped nearly 10 percent over the past decade but continued to rise in Mohave County and other rural counties such as Cochise and La Paz since 2007.
The CDC data, based on a sample of 59,000 pharmacies nationwide, provides only a ratio of total prescriptions per 100 residents. It doesn’t show the number of pills prescribed or the number of people with multiple prescriptions.
Still, the data jibes with what Mohave County health professionals and law enforcement see daily — powerful, addicting opiates such as oxycodone and Percocet widely available in the county of 200,000 residents.
“We have known if for quite a few years,” Rusty Cooper, deputy chief of the Kingman Police Department, said of the prevalence of opioids.
Cooper said officers have reversed five overdoses since the department began to train and supply officers with naloxone in August 2016. One of those people graduated from the Mohave County drug court program, which connects drug-dependent individuals accused of non-violent crimes with treatment programs.
The Arizona Legislature has unanimously approved k Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposal to crack down on excess opioid prescribing and add other regulations designed to cut addictions and overdose deaths.
Ducey’s proposal bars doctors from prescribing more than an initial five-day supply of pain medication in most cases, boosts pain clinic regulation and adds $10 million to help uninsured and underinsured people get addiction treatment.
It requires electronic prescriptions for narcotics by early next year in large counties and by mid-2019 in smaller counties.
At least two Mohave County doctors have faced criminal charges from inappropriate prescribing in recent years.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com