By Greg Bird
McCreary County receives enough prescription medication to provide every man, woman and child nearly one dose a day of a controlled substance according to data released by the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) system.
The report for the fourth quarter of the year shows McCreary County ranked in the top 20 counties in the state with opioid and controlled substance usage in the last three months of 2017.
The KASPER system, designed to track all prescriptions written and filled in Kentucky, provides doctors and health care officials a database of drugs being prescribed to patients. The idea behind the database is to help curtail over prescription of opioid and controlled substances, but the data compiled shows the drug epidemic in Kentucky and McCreary County is far from over.
The data does not directly show evidence of abuse, as only prescriptions are logged, and those may be for legitimate reasons. It cannot distinguish prescription medication that is being sold on a secondary market. It also does not take in to account prescriptions filed or filled in other states, such as Tennessee.
The data shows McCreary County ranked 14th in the state with 832,763 doses of controlled substances prescribed between October and December of last year. That breaks down to 64,257 doses per every 1,000 residents, almost enough for one dose a day for each McCreary Countian.
Owsley County, which ranks at or near the top of nearly every list in the report, tops the controlled substance dosage with more than 101 doses per every resident.
Opioid-based drugs, specifically, were prescribed at a rate of 24,304 per 1,000 residents, placing McCreary County 20th in the state. A total of 402,433 opioid-based doses were prescribed to a local address.
KASPER further breaks down the prevalence of certain drug types in their fourth quarter report, providing a more-detailed look at what drugs are prescribed in each county.
McCreary County ranked 5th in the state with 2,762 prescribed doses per 1,000 residents of Diazepam, commonly known as Valium in the fourth quarter. A total of 13,120 doses were prescribed to McCreary County patients in the last three months of 2017. Diazepam prescriptions accounted for only two percent of total prescribed controlled substances tracked by KASPER during that period.
Buprenorphine/Nalaxone, a combination of drugs commonly prescribed to treat opioid addiction, had 30,727 doses prescribed locally between October and December – 3,663 per 1,000 residents. McCreary ranked 7th in the state for doses.
Commonly known as Suboxone and Subutex, the drugs are used to combat addiction, but can be abused. Buprenorphine/Nalaxone prescriptions accounted for only three percent of total prescriptions in the report.
Tramadol, an opioid-based painkiller was prescribed at a rate of 2,762 doses per 1,000 residents, with 54,812 doses. McCreary ranked 18th in the state.
Hydrocodone and Oxycodone prescription in McCreary County fortunately lag further behind most Kentucky counties, where those drugs are more prevalent. According to KASPER 44 percent of controlled substances prescribed in the three- month period belonged to those two drug types. In all 173,829 doses of Hydrocodone were prescribed locally in the fourth quarter, or 10,217 doses per 1,000 residents. McCreary ranked 47th in the state for that drug.
McCreary ranked 89th in the state for Oxycodone doses per 1,000 residents, with 12,217 being prescribed. Clinton County, with 9,605 doses per 1,000 residents led the state.