Deaths Still Climbing In NY, Even As Painkiller Prescriptions Decline

Hudson Valley

NY Sees Decline in Painkiller Scripts

As the opioid crisis has unfolded, legislators and public health officials have worked to reduce the numbers of opioid painkiller prescriptions that are written.

Now, the latest data shows that that effort is gaining traction, with the number of prescriptions declining across the country. However, many areas within New York state actually saw an increase in prescriptions.

As reported at, pain-pill prescriptions dropped in New York from 2012 to 2016. Nationally, the total number of prescriptions peaked in 2012 at about 255 million and a rate of 81 prescriptions per 100 persons, according to federal data.

Then in 2016, the national prescribing rate fell to 66.5 prescriptions per 100 people, the lowest it had been in more than a decade.

New York State’s rate was even lower at 42.7 prescriptions per 100 people in 2016. That same year, Westchester and Rockland counties had prescribing rates of 35 and 34.6, respectively, the data show.

Despite the declines in overall prescribing rates from the 2012 peak, some communities still saw isolated pockets of increases in the amount of painkiller scripts in recent years.

For example, Ulster County had 67.6 prescriptions per 100 people in 2016, which was up about 14 percent from 2007. Dutchess County had a rate of 55.6 prescriptions, which was about the same as it had in 2007.

However, the decline in opioid prescribing rates didn’t translate into fewer deaths. Many struggling with addiction turned to the cheaper and deadlier illicit heroin and fentanyl being smuggled into the U.S. in record amounts by Mexican drug cartels.

The number of fatal overdoses increased in Westchester and Rockland to 143 in 2016, up from 110 in 2015, The Journal News/lohud reported.

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