BALTIMORE, April 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ameritox, the nation's leader in medication monitoring solutions, yesterday delivered testimony before the Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force chaired by Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford. Ameritox combined its proprietary data with statistics published by noted federal government institutions to show that prescription painkiller misuse, abuse and diversion was a major contributing factor for the state's current heroin abuse epidemic. Additionally, Ameritox offered two key recommendations to better fight Maryland's opioid scourge.
One of the key passages from the written testimony prepared by Chief Operating Officer Todd Gardner illustrates how prescription opioid misuse, abuse and diversion created the heroin abuse epidemic in Maryland: "Ameritox processed more than 16,000 samples from patients residing in the state in 2014, many of which were collected from the Baltimore Metropolitan Statistical Area. The results of these tests showed two major problems: First, nearly half – 48.4 percent – of the samples contained a drug that was not prescribed by the doctor who ordered the test. Second, 20 percent of the samples contained an illicit drug. Heroin was included in the panel of illicit drugs for which we tested."
"The evidence linking the increase in non-medical use of prescription opioids and heroin abuse is impossible to ignore. Our data confirms others' assessments that rampant misuse and abuse of prescription opioids is one of the catalysts for Maryland's heroin abuse epidemic," Gardner said.
A strong and viable path forward to reversing Maryland's opioid problem must include more clinician use of medication monitoring, and education outreach regarding appropriate dosage, risks associated with long-term use of opioids, responsible weaning techniques, and the threat of escalation to harder substances, such as heroin, to all doctors who prescribe pain medication.
"Law enforcement, public health officials, doctors, and patient advocates all largely agree that preventing the misuse and abuse of opioids requires a multi-system approach – and cooperation from everyone," said Gardner.
Lt. Governor Rutherford said to all those who provided testimony: "We're not going to allow this [epidemic] to be a whisper, and I hope the people in this room don't allow us to make it a whisper."
A copy of the written testimony is available upon request.
Ameritox helped pioneer the prescription drug monitoring necessary to address the national epidemic of prescription drug misuse, abuse, and diversion. As the nation's trusted leader in Pain Medication Monitoring Solutions(SM), Ameritox provides medical and business professionals with health care solutions that can help improve patient care and prevent tragedy. Ameritox, headquartered in Baltimore, Md., has 800 employees nationwide and laboratory facilities in Greensboro, N.C.