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Poison Centers

Carolinas Poison Center Tackles Prescription Pain Medicine Epidemic

Carolinas Poison Center, North Carolina’s only poison center has been awarded a three-year grant by HRSA to study unintentional overdose deaths and injuries in North Carolina involving prescription pain medications.  North Carolina’s death rate from unintentional medication poisonings exceeds the national rate. Over 900 people died in the state in 2007 from these medications. One-third of these deaths occurred in Medicaid recipients, with the majority of these deaths involving prescription opioids, like oxycodone or hydrocodone. As a result, Carolinas Poison Center will address prescription opioid use in the Medicaid population.  

The grant will follow a social marketing approach, which relies on the intended audience to determine the type of outreach and interventions that are most effective for them. Carolinas Poison Center will work with the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance and the North Carolina Division of Public Health to reach out to North Carolina’s Medicaid population.  The center will study the awareness level of the potential harm opioid pain medications can cause as well as Medicaid recipients’ level of engagement and willingness to act on new information about these medications. The research will then lead to statewide interventions designed to decrease the number of injuries and deaths related to unintentional opioid pain medication overdoses.

Carolinas Poison Center is in the first year of the grant. Interventions will be launched in the third year. The center will collaborate with other invested injury prevention partners to leverage the findings to all interested stakeholders.