State numbers show decrease in number of prescriptions dispensed

File photo of empty pill bottles. (WLUK image)

(WLUK) -- New numbers from the state show a drop in the number of opioid prescriptions handed out over the last two years.

By now you've likely heard America is dealing with an opioid epidemic.

Multiple Wisconsin counties have filed a federal lawsuit against prescription drug-makers.

Krista Baisch is the member of a team of attorneys representing the counties. Baisch says 64 of Wisconsin's 72 counties are included in the suit.

"The counties are bearing the brunt of of the cost of that epidemic in the services they provide and they don't have the ability to increase funds to pay for the additional services that are needed to provide for this opioid epidemic," said Baisch.

Because of the opioid crisis, critics have blamed doctors, opioid users and pharmaceutical companies.

Purdue Pharma, one of the pharmecutical companies named in the lawsuit released a statement last month that said, "We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and our sales representatives will no longer promote opioids to prescribers."

Baisch points toward the lawsuit as at least one reason for the company's change.

"It is very clear that this litigation is taking major steps in the decrease of prescriptions on a national level and that has never been done before," Baisch said.

Despite the opioid epidemic, numbers from the state show a downward trend.

The Department of Safety and Professional Services says when looking at opioids specifically, there was a 20 percent decrease in the number of prescriptions dispensed, from 5,105,729 in 2015 to 4,066,083 in 2017.

A statement from Governor says in part, "A 20 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions shows how seriously our prescribers and law enforcement take the opioid epidemic, and I remain committed to ensuring they have the tools and resources necessary to continue their good work."

According to the state Department of Health Services 827 people died of opioid-related deaths last year.

In 2016, opioids contributed to at least 600 deaths.

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