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New Mexico, Nevada receive high marks for opioid battle

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico is one of only two states receiving high marks for its fight against prescription opioid overdose from the National Safety Council.

The Council ranks New Mexico tops with Nevada in making strides in all six of the categories of progress judged in the group’s 2018 report, released last week.

“We are, with Nevada, six out of six. New Mexico policies have been directed at the drug overdose epidemic and in the works for a long time. We were basically trailblazers,” said Dr. Michael Landen, state epidemiologist with the state Department of Health.

The report compared states’ efforts at combating the opioid overdose epidemic, specifically prescription opioids, in these six areas: mandating prescriber education, implementing prescribing guidelines, creating and requiring doctors check a prescription tracking databases, improving data tracking and sharing, treating opioid overdose and increasing treatment availability.

The report praised New Mexico’s continuing education requirement for medical providers authorized to prescribe opioids and it praised the requirement that providers routinely check the state-run prescription tracking database.

“By prioritizing creation and rapid implementation of (continuing education) for all prescribers, New Mexico reduced the amount of opioids prescribed and saved lives,” according to the report.

Dating back to 2001, the state has implemented additional policies that meet this year’s report categories:

In 2001, New Mexico became the first state in the nation to allow people to buy naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, at pharmacies without a prescription, Landen said. And the state already had in place an needle exchange program.

In 2004, the state started tracking non-fatal overdoses in order to develop data to use in tackling overdoses.

In 2007, the state passed a law that allows immunity for people seeking help for their or other’s opioid overdose.

Landen says other policies over the years have all centered on monitoring and battling overdoses resulting in the high marks on the report.

“I think it reflects a cohesive systematic approach to developing policy around drug overdose prevention that has been going on for 20 years,” he said.

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