top of page
  • Writer's pictureWE Care Coalition

Co-Prescription of Opioid Reduces Overdose Deaths, Supports Patient Safety, and Will Save Money

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with opioids as the most common. Public health measures in Colorado are needed requiring patient education on the risks of opioids and to offer a co-prescription of an opioid antagonist (such as naloxone) that temporarily counteracts an overdose.

Opioids by the Numbers

Too often, an opioid antagonist is not in the right hands at the right time. Co-prescription ensures an opioid antagonist is easily accessible for those at risk of overdose.

Across the country, 47,000 people died in 2017 from opioid overdoses. Of that, 36% of deaths came from prescription opioid overdoses.

The state of Colorado is in an opioid crisis.

  • In 2017, there were 578 overdose deaths involving opioids in Colorado, and the number of deaths from prescription opioids (300) was higher than the number of deaths from heroin (224).

  • According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, between August, 2017, and August, 2018, there were 3,257,447 opioid prescriptions issued in Colorado State Efforts to Stop the Opioid Crisis

Opioid ovedose can happen anytime, to anyone in any community. Construction workers recovering from an on the job accident. Nurses lifting patients into bed. The weekend warrior who gets a running injury. People hurt in car accidents. Not a single segment of society is immune from the dangers of opioid overdose.

States have begun to deal with this public health crisis by passing co-prescription legislation because the timely administration of an opioid antagonist may reverse accidental overdoses. When states pass laws increasing access to an opioid antagonist, there is a 9% to 11% reduction in opioid deaths.

States with Co-Prescription Laws or Regulations: Ohio, Virginia, Vermont, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Washington and California.

Cost Savings from Co-Prescription

The CDC currently estimates more than 1,000 emergency department visits daily related to the misuse

of opioids. A landmark observational study in safety settings found those who were co-prescribed an opioid antagonist had 63% fewer emergency department visits after one year. Co-prescribing an opioid antagonist may save resources by reducing emergency room visits and thereby potentially lowering some of the burdensome healthcare costs of the opioid epidemic.

Patients who are prescribed a high dose of opioid medication are AT RISK in Colorado. Our coalition seeks to amend current opioid related legislation to ensure that these patients are provided with an opportunity to obtain life-saving opioid reversal medication when they receive a high dose opioid prescription, a high dose prescription in conjunction with other dangerous medications, or in the event a patient is at high-risk of overdose.

Adding this requirement to provide access to the opioid overdose reversal medication will help save lives and reduce the cost of care in Colorado!


1. Schiller, Elizabeth Y. “Opioid Overdose.” StatPearls U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2 Mar. 2019, Accessed October 2019.

2. CDC. Data Overview. Overview of the Drug Overdose Epidemic: Behind the Numbers. Accessed October 2019.

3. CDC. Data Overview. Overview of the Drug Overdose Epidemic: Behind the Numbers. Accessed October 2019

4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Colorado Opioid Summary”. NIDA, March, 2019,

5. Colorado Prescription Drug Profile, 2017-2018; Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

6. AMA Opioid Task Force. “Help Save Lives: Co-Prescribe Naloxone to Patients at Risk of Overdose.” AMA Opioid Task Force, August 2017, Accessed January 2020.

0 views0 comments
bottom of page