Since 2008, McDowell County has seen 65 deaths due to opioid poisoning, according to data on the NCDHHS website.
According to a recent release, state health officials say that the overall increase is due to the increase in “potent illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl.”
The release further states that it is too early for final numbers for 2018, the preliminary data from the first quarter of 2018 showed a decrease compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
“While we are seeing progress in some metrics including Emergency Room visits, we still have a lot or work to do,” said Mandy K. Cohen, M.D, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. “We need to close the coverage gap if we are to make serious headway against this epidemic, as they have done in other states.”
In addition, the number of opioid pills dispensed statewide decreased by 24 percent in the period from the end of 2016 to the second quarter of 2018, the release says.
“In addition, the rate of patients receiving opioids from five or more prescribers dispensed at five or more pharmacies, an indicator of ‘doctor shopping,’ decreased over 70 percent. However, the percent of opioid overdose deaths involving illicit drugs like heroin, fentanyl or fentanyl analogues increased from 59 percent to 81 percent over the last two years.”
Finally, according to the data there are now more than 1,700 retail pharmacies, which is 85 percent of all statewide, dispensing naloxone, the opioid reversal drug. A statewide order allows pharmacists to dispense it to “anyone who requests it and is at risk themselves, knows someone at risk of overdose or is in a position to assist a person at risk of experiencing an overdose.”
As of October 2018, 249 law enforcement agencies in 90 counties across North Carolina carry naxolone.
Opioid poisoning deaths in McDowell
2008 – 8
2009 – 4
2010 – 5
2011 – 4
2012 – 5
2013 – 2
2014 – 4
2015 – 8
2016 – 13
2017 -- 12