Chris Smith, Agent In Charge for Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics, gives an educational talk at the Jackson County Health Department about the prevalence of prescription drug abuse.
“77 percent of overdose deaths in Oklahoma are related to prescription drugs,” says Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics Agent In Charge, Chris Smith, during a presentation to community health professionals at the Jackson County Health Department building. On Monday, March 25, Smith spoke specifically about diversion of prescription drugs and the actions the Bureau has taken to prevent it.
Oklahoma as ranked #1 for non-medical use of prescription drugs in the U.S., Smith reported, provided by the CDC.
“Diversion is any use of a prescription drug other than for what it was prescribed,” Smith stated. 44 percent of prescription overdose related deaths in 2011, involved one’s own prescription. Whereas 56 percent overdosed on medications obtained from other sources like family, friends, or the black market on the street, Smith explained. “We have taken steps to try to alleviate this statistic right here.”
The Bureau has implemented prescription monitoring systems to combat what they call, “Drug seekers,” or “Doctor shoppers,” individuals who manipulate the medical health system to obtain controlled medications. People may seek out multiple doctors to get their medication to use for themselves, or to sell on the street, he explained. Smith provided a vignette of a “Doctor shopper,” who obtained prescriptions from 194 different doctors throughout 33 counties. The shopper even had insurance, but paid cash on many of the visits.
One effective method the Bureau uses to combat drug seekers is the collection of data into a database of patients who are prescribed level II controlled medications. Doctors have the ability to view a patient’s prescription history for trends to see if the patient may be seeking a script from the doctor for illegal purposes. Smith explained how critical it is to inform doctors of individuals who could be “Doctor shoppers.”
The Bureau has also implemented the promotion of the “Safe Trip for Scripts” program to battle “diversion.” Patients can discard their unused or expired prescriptions at a safe location into a drop-box to be sent to a factory for incineration, at no cost to the State. There is a drop-box located at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
“To date, we’ve destroyed 193.6 pounds of prescription drugs from Jackson County, and 26.2 tons of prescription drugs across the State,” Smith said.
Providing information to doctors, heath professionals and the public is another approach Smith and the Narcotic Bureau rely on to effectively minimize the abuse of prescription drugs.
For more information about preventing prescription drug diversion go to www.ok.gov/obndd