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Atty. Gen. Swanson Issues Opioid Prescription Policy Recommendations

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Attorney General Lori Swanson has recommended changes in the way controlled substances are prescribed in Minnesota in hopes of reducing the number of deaths from prescription painkillers.

Swanson made her recommendations Wednesday as her office issued a report on the growing opioid problem.

"Growing addiction to prescription opioid painkillers is devastating families from all walks of life across all parts of our state," Swanson said. "We need all hands on deck to push forward solutions, which must involve those in health care, the criminal justice system, patients, families, and policymakers."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and prescribing such drugs fuels the epidemic. The CDC found that in 2014, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription painkillers.

Swanson said she hopes her recommendations will be just the beginning of proposals to strengthen Minnesota's response to the problem. Her recommendations cover prescribing practices, drug treatment issues, and improved education about the dangers of opioid abuse and proper disposal of the drugs.

Among them, Swanson said doctors and drug dispensers should be required to review a patient's history in the state's prescription drug monitoring program before prescribing or giving out controlled substances. She also said that prescriptions for controlled substances should be valid for only 30 days, not the current duration of a year, to reduce the time for potential abuse.

Swanson also recommended that naloxone, a drug that's commonly known as Narcan and is known to reverse an opioid overdose, should be available without a prescription. She called for expanded access to drug treatment, particularly in rural areas. She also proposed that the Legislature to allocate more resources to the judicial branch to better address drug addiction in the criminal justice system.

(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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