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Opioid prescriptions dropped 14.3 percent in 2018 compared with 2017 in ND

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A new study shows that in 2018, opioid prescriptions in North Dakota dropped 14.3 percent from the previous year.

The American Medical Association study shows doctors are also using other tools – such as prescription drug monitoring programs – to help prevent the misuse of opioids.

The chief medical officer for Sanford Health in Bismarck, Dr. Chris Meeker, said Sanford did a number of things starting in 2016 to help curb the epidemic.

"We had a mandatory educational component for all of our prescribers," Meeker said. "We also started providing feedback to all of our physicians about their prescribing habits, so every physician knows where they stand in their specialty where they stand in their prescribing."

Meeker said that way, they could see how prescriptions have dropped through self-monitoring.

"One of the problems we recognized is that the physicians don't get any feedback regarding the appropriateness of their prescribing," Meeker said.

Meeker said since March 2016, they have seen a 45 percent decrease in the number of opioid tablets prescribed. But he said it is a balancing act.

"You have a lot of chronic pain patients who are very functional, and have done very well on these medications over time," Meeker said. "We can't neglect the fact that there are appropriate uses for opioids. It's really striking the right balance."

Meeker said he sees more of a problem with the synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

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