Utah launches red sticker campaign to fight opioid abuse, overdoses

Stock image | St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah pharmacists will start putting red stickers on bottles of opioids that warn patients about the risk of overdose and addiction as part of a new awareness campaign to combat painkiller abuses and deaths.

The Utah Department of Health’s month-long campaign kicks off Monday and is meant to encourage dialogue between pharmacists and patients about opioid risks.

The rate of prescription opioids dispensed in Utah grew 30 percent from 2002 to 2015, statistics from the department show. Nearly 300 Utah residents died of opioid overdoses in 2015, according to the latest data available from the department.

“Given the high number of deaths associated with prescription opioids, understanding the risks of opioids is vital to patient safety.” said Angela Dunn, deputy state epidemiologist for the health department.

The new initiative is a collaborative effort by the health department, the Utah Pharmacy Association and the Utah Department of Commerce.

The red stickers – which read “Caution: Opioid. Risk of Overdose and Addiction” – will prompt patients to ask pharmacists questions about their potentially addictive medications, said Greg Jones, chairman of the Utah Pharmacy Licensing Board.

People underestimate the danger of their medications,” Jones said. “People think they’ll be fine taking it, and quite often they’re not.”

Pharmacists can discuss with patients proper use, storage and disposal of opioids and provide naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug.

The red-sticker campaign is just one of several initiatives the Utah Department of Health has been working on in recent years to reduce opioid overdoses and increase public awareness about the issue.

“It will take some time to see results,” Dunn said. “But anecdotally, patients are becoming more educated on what an opioid is and the dangers it can possess.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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5 Comments

  • Craig May 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Are they certain this is the population at risk? The population I’ve seen for 36 years in the ER is not this population.

    One paragraph describes the increase in prescribing opioids, framed in a way to make it seem obviously bad. Has this been reviewed to see if the prescriptions are medically appropriate or not? Perhaps that increase is actually less than would be expected with increasing populations and painful medical procedures,

    The same paragraph reports the number of deaths in a year from opioids, suggesting a cause and effect. Has that been demonstrated with good research or just assumed?

    I finished the article seeing a nice hard working guy breaking his ankle, receiving opioids, and ending up addicted with a destroyed life.

    Though this is somethings physician’s always worry about and are tuned in to, this is not the patient I see in the ER this past 36 years.

    I may have missed it, but I don’t see any responsibility expected by the individual.

    But, I worry most that this may well not be targeting the correct market. No studies are referenced suggesting decisions with solid research.

  • comments May 1, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Utahns sure do love them some Oxy’s and what not. We wouldn’t want nobody to smoke herb for pain tho, or use it in other ways–gotta keep them synthetic opioid makers in business. Good job UT mormon policymakers, another fail.

  • ladybugavenger May 1, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    The dentist here prescribed me norco 7.5 when I had step 1 of my root canal done last week. When I went to the dentist a week before with a tooth infection and pain they prescribed me antibiotics and ibuprofen 800. That worked. So, I told him I think ibuprofen will be ok. The prescription for norco sits on my kitchen table…I don’t want to be a statistic so I didn’t fill it.

  • wilbur May 1, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Perhaps they are throwing heroin overdoses into these statistics of burgeoning deaths by pills?

    (Much like suicides by guns get tossed into murder stat; oops, sorry, “gun violence”.)

  • The Dude May 1, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Great now when an addict raids your medicine cabinet. They don’t have to read the label. Just take the ones with the red sticker on the bottom.

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