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Thursday, 14 March 2019 15:24

Efforts to curb fentanyl use paying off

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STATEWIDE (WGME) - There has been a dramatic decline in fentanyl prescriptions -- especially here in Maine.

According to a new study,  the national prescribing of fentanyl decreased by 18 percent from 2016 to 2017.


Doctors in Maine have made the sharpest reductions in the country in the amount of fentanyl they prescribe, according to the study.


Pharmacy researchers, including faculty from the University of New England, conducted that study.


The researchers said tough, new state restrictions on the drug are having an effect and that research showed that states with weaker prescribing laws had lower reductions in opioids.


Despite the decrease in fentanyl prescriptions, there is still a long way to go in Maine's fight to end its curb opioid crisis.


Gov. Janet Mills said Maine had more than 400 drug-induced deaths in 2017, a 30 percent decline from 2016.


The researchers said Maine's strict laws  -- such as a limit on supply, mandatory use of the drug monitoring program and a prescribing cap and penalties -- are making a difference.


"We believe other states are taking a close look at this public health crisis," UNE Associate Professor Kenneth McCall said.


Researchers said fentanyl is an appropriate drug for certain patients dealing with symptoms like severe pain or cancer but they cautioned that it should only be used when needed and prescribed because it can be a very dangerous drug.