RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Shocking new statistics from the National Safety Council this week says a person’s chance of dying from an opioid overdose is higher than dying in a car crash.
Virginia doctors are required to prescribe Narcan along with certain opioids.
State law requires doctors to prescribe Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose, along with some patient’s opioid painkillers.
8News spoke with an expert who says the law is to help prevent another tragic death.
More than 130 people in the United States die every day after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“This risk of overdose increases as the dose of pain medicine increases,” said Dr. Ruddy Rose, a toxicologist at VCU.
Dr. Rose says it can be hard to tell which patients may take too much medicine.
“Other people will take them exactly how they’re prescribed,” Rose told 8News. “May not even finish it, then you have a problem with leftover medicines in the home.”
To prevent an overdose, a new Virginia state law requires providers to prescribe Narcan along with a patient’s pain medicine depending on how much is being prescribed, the strength of the drug, if a patient has a history of substance abuse and if they’ve had an overdose before.
“The goal of the naloxone is if something goes wrong and if the patient overdoses and it doesn’t really matter if it’s intentional or unintentional, that you have an antidote,” Dr. Rose said.” A rescue medicine in the house already.”
The doctor has to prescribe Narcan but patients don’t have to fill it.
The Virginia Board of Medicine says the purpose is to treat a patient’s pain and guard them against an accidental overdose.
Dr. Rose told 8News it’s a good idea to buy the Naloxone but it’s a personal decision. Narcan can cost around $200 and some patients say it’s an extra cost they don’t need or want.