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What’s your state’s prescription opioid death rate?

Utah’s is 16 deaths per 100,000 residents.

New Hampshire? 18.2.

West Virginia leads at 24.7.

Rhode Island is well into the double digits at 14.2.

Texas is among the lowest at 2.5, as is Nebraska at 2.8.

For 2014, the national death count was almost 19,000.  You can check every state here.

19,000 people died from prescription drugs – pills that a doctor prescribed for a patient. Not heroin, not crystal meth, not Ecstasy.  Pills a drug company marketed, many of them supposedly “abuse-deterrent”. Pills a stockholder profited from.

I bring this to your attention, dear reader, because the news these days includes some signs that we’re making progress, that opioid scripts are down and things are improving.

They are NOT.

In fact, don’t be surprised if the death count in 2015 hits 22,000.  That’s just a number, but it’s a number built on dead sisters and brothers and cousins and best friends, dead moms and dads and kids and BFFs and girlfriends and hunting buddies.

What does this mean for you?

Please don’t relax one bit.  Keep the pressure on, keep the focus tight, keep demanding answers, and above all, be aware,


5 thoughts on “What’s your state’s prescription opioid death rate?”

  1. A few years ago, using data in part provided by Gary Franklin, I estimated that injured workers on a extended course of opioid therapy incurred a death rate that exceeded the death rate of the most risky jobs in America (such as logging).

    1. Peter would you mind sharing what your calculations were? I agree that I think its much higher for WC but of course that’s just my gut

  2. Hey Joe – where are the numbers from – is there a report we can see? We just lost Minnesota native son, Prince…to Fentanyl.

  3. I would suggest that these numbers are understated. Why, because those that prescribe are not going to step forward and say..”oh yea, that was my patient”….why, because many times by the time someone suffers that fatal overdose, many have become estranged from family and friends..and why, because there isn’t much incentive for a WC insurer to have a death case……we are witness to the most graphic case of negligent homicide I’m aware of….and as always, just my opine

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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