Iowa and Illinois rank among the states with some of the lowest mortality rates from prescription drug abuse, but Iowa’s rate quadrupled in ten years and Illinois’ rate nearly doubled.
The startling statistics are part of a new report, “Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic,” published by the Trust for America’s Health.
The Trust for America’s Health report says most drug overdose deaths are from prescription drugs.
“Prescription drug-related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined, and drug overdose deaths exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 19 states and Washington D.C.,” the report says.
Painkiller abuse alone costs the U.S. more than $53 billion per year in lost productivity, medical and criminal justice costs.
The report says Illinois has the 12th-lowest drug overdose mortality rate in the U.S., with 10 per 100,000 people dying from a drug overdose. Iowa has the 7th-lowest mortality rate at 8.6 per 100,000 people.
The report says many states lack effective strategies to curb prescription drug abuse. The report ranks state strategies to combat prescription drug abuse on a scale of 0 to 10, with ten being the most effective programs.
Illinois had a score of 8 and Iowa scored a 6 out of 10.
The report said Iowa does not have a law requiring or allowing a pharmacist to require patient identification prior to dispensing a controlled substance. Iowa is also one of 17 states without a “Good Samaritan law” that would provide immunity or reduced sentences for people who seek help for themselves or others who are overdosing, and Iowa does not have a so-called “rescue law” to expand the use of the prescription drug naloxone which could help counteract overdose.
The report said Illinois has an active program to monitor prescription drugs in the state, but does not require prescribers to use the program. The state also does not require or recommend specific education for those who prescribe medications.
Only two states, New Mexico and Vermont, scored 10 out of 10.