According to a recently released nationwide report from the American Medical Association, opioid prescriptions in South Dakota have decreased by nearly 27% in the past five years.
The South Dakota State Medical Association, in a Friday news release, said the report showed that "South Dakota physicians have implemented meaningful improvements in response to the opioid epidemic."
Per the AMA's report, opioid prescriptions in the state decreased by 26.8% between 2013 and 2018. And between 2017 and 2018, the rate of opioid prescription fills was 13.4%.
More South Dakota health care providers are also using a prescription drug monitoring database than in previous years. In 2018, 6,639 health care professionals were registered in the database, up 772 from 5,867 in 2017.
The SDSMA said in Friday's release that the numbers in the AMA's report "show that the efforts of South Dakota physicians have improved opioid prescribing, and protects patients at risk."
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SDSMA President Robert Summerer said in Friday's release that the association is "so happy to see these positive results," but "we still have work to do."
"We’re seeing huge successes in working with physicians and implementing many important reforms that are positively impacting patients,” Summerer said. “Using this momentum, we’ll continue to go even further to save the lives of those affected by the misuse of opioids.”
According to SDSMA, opioid prescriptions have decreased but drug overdose deaths are on the rise. Summerer said as opioids become increasingly harder to obtain, "more people turn to meth and other drugs to help relieve pain." He said increasing access to pain management care, as well as substance abuse and mental health treatment can help.
Gov. Kristi Noem has pushed for increased funding to combat South Dakota's methamphetamine epidemic, and legislators will examine the state's drug laws during a summer study.