Southwest Virginia city highest in the nation for opioid prescriptions

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2013 file photo, Schedule 2 narcotics: Morphine Sulfate, OxyContin and Opana are displayed for a photograph in Carmichael, Calif. California doctors will be required to check a database of prescription narcotics before writing scripts for addictive drugs under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown signed Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, that aims to address the scourge of opioid abuse. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

MARTINSVILLE, VA (WVNS/WJHL) – A new report ranks the city of Martinsville, VA first in the nation in per-capita opioid prescriptions. That’s according to a Centers for Disease Control report released last week.

The report analyzed prescriptions from 59,000 pharmacies around the country in 2015. Nationwide, it found a number of opioids prescribed were the equivalent of 640 milligrams of morphine per person in 2015.  

Opioids come in different strengths, so researchers came up with a standard measure comparing them to morphine.

And according to the CDC, in 2015 six times more opioids per resident were dispensed in the highest-prescribing counties than in the lowest-prescribing areas.

The CDC says this suggests inconsistent prescribing practices among healthcare providers and care depends on where a person lives.

The CDC says higher opioid prescribing puts patients at risk for addiction and overdose.

“The amount of opioids prescribed in the U.S. is still too high, with too many opioid prescriptions for too many days at too high a dosage,” said Anne Schuchat, M.D., acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Healthcare providers have an important role in offering safer and more effective pain management while reducing risks of opioid addiction and overdose.”

In Martinsville, that figure was more than 4,000 milligrams, higher than any other town or county for which data was available.

Efforts to combat the crisis in Martinsville include a police task force that’s going door to door on the weekends, passing out information about opioid abuse.

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