MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New state guidelines for prescribing opioids aim at reducing the risk of addiction. Opioid addiction is a public health crisis. Nearly 400 people died of an opioid overdose in Minnesota alone in 2016.
Friday Lt. Governor Tina Smith and healthcare providers laid out steps critical to combating the problem.
“This is a crisis that is hurting people in every corner of our state,” Smith said.
The state and healthcare communities have worked to establish best practices for opioid prescribers since bipartisan legislation was signed in 2015.
“These guidelines will help providers decide when to prescribe these powerful drugs, how much to prescribe and how to monitor their use,” Smith said.
Dr. Chris Johnson led the team of experts through the Opioid Prescribing Work Group.
“The research has shown conclusively every brain is at risk and once the exposure starts happening to opioids your risk goes up,” Johnson said.
The crisis grew in 2016 in Minnesota with a 12 percent increase in opioid overdoses, according to statistics provided by the state.
“We know that the most critical time frame to prevent chronic opioid use is that bridge between short-term prescriptions and long-term prescriptions, the first 45 days,” Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said.
She reports last year, there were 47 opioid prescriptions for every 100 Minnesotans.
“Several counties recorded as many prescriptions as there are residents in their county,” Piper said.
The guidelines are intended to support prescribers, not look over their shoulder says Dr. Johnson. But he stressed this must be done in the best interest of the patient.
“Who is the healthcare industry really serving? It is serving the patient or, well, is it serving itself. Because I think the American people deserve better,” Johnson said.
The guidelines are currently a draft. Now there will be a 30-day public comment period. Click here to view the draft.
The guidelines come one day after several county attorneys announced plans to sue opioid manufacturers and distributors.