Pain med overdoses trending downward in state

OLYMPIA — The state Health Department says fewer people died from prescription pain medication overdoses from 2008 to 2001 after a sharp increase in the previous decade.

The number of unintentional deaths from drugs such as oxycodone dropped from 512 in 2008 to 407 in 2011. Still, the 2011 death rate was six times higher than in 1998.

The department doesn’t have figures yet for 2012, but it said the downward trend should continue because of new pain management rules for health care providers and a new monitoring program that allows doctors to see all the controlled substances their patients are receiving.

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