10 States With The Highest Opioid Abuse Rates

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What are the 10 states with the highest opioid abuse rates? Opioid pain killers are generally a good thing. Without them, many patients would suffer substantially more from their ailments. When taken in combination with other drugs, they can dramatically improve the quality of life for millions.

While pain killers can be good, they can also be bad. Due to their mechanisms of action, opioid pain killers are highly addictive. In fact, opioid pain killers share many similarities with highly illicit drugs. Due to how they work inside the brain (such as stimulating the release of feel-good dopamine), some opioids are abused heavily. According to the CDC, the abuse caused 33,092 people to die of opioid overdoses in the United States in 2015. Heroin deaths alone eclipsed the number of deaths due to guns in 2015.

David Smart/Shutterstock.com

David Smart/Shutterstock.com

While privately-held Purdue Pharma leads the list in terms of prescription opioid revenues, other publicly traded companies such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:TEVA), Endo International plc – Ordinary Shares (NASDAQ:ENDP), and Depomed Inc (NASDAQ:DEPO) manufacture legal opioid medications.

Given that opioid abuse has become a major problem, which is why we are taking a look at the 10 states with the highest opioid abuse rates, Big Pharma is trying to do something about it. Several major drug companies, such as Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Teva, Purdue, and Endo, have spent collectively over $20 million on lobbying efforts to in part require the FDA to replace the current slate of opioids with versions that are more difficult to abuse.

Among the companies selling harder-to-abuse solutions is BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. (NASDAQ:BDSI),  which markets BUNAVAIL, the first and only formulation of buprenorphine and naloxone for inside of the cheek administration. As a result of the improved absorption of buprenorphine with BUNAVAIL, the potential for opioid misuse and diversion is arguably lower. Given those traits, doctors are prescribing BUNAVAIL for opioid addiction/maintenance treatment of opioid dependence.

While BUNAVAIL has compelling traits, its sales haven’t quite caught on with the market, as sales of the drug brought in net revenue of $2 million for BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. (NASDAQ:BDSI) in the three months ended September 30, 2016. Other potential solutions to the problem have not caught on either and opioid abuse remains a major issue. With that said, let’s take a look at the 10 States With The Highest Opioid Abuse Rates. For those of you interested, also check out the article ‘The 10 States with Highest Substance Abuse Rates Crippling Their Populace‘.

#10 New Mexico

  • Population: 2,085,109
  • 2015 deaths from opioid overdose: 351
  • Opioid death rate per 1,000,000 people: 168.33

New Mexico ranks as the 10th highest state in terms of opioid deaths per 1 million people. 351 New Mexicans died in 2015 due to opioid overdose, with many of those fatalities due to heroin abuse.

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