PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island health officials are taking a strong stance in an effort to prevent overdose deaths.
According to RI Department of Health, 1 in 3 accidental overdose deaths between 2014 and 2015 included a combination of narcotics and sedatives.
In a four-point initiative, Governor Gina Raimondo outlined a national petition for the FDA to require black box labels warning physicians of possible life-threatening consequences in prescribing both opioids and benzodiazepines.
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the RI Dept. of Health, said “bringing attention to this [issue] is critical and people are welcoming that especially is we know that this can contribute to saving lives and stopping overdose deaths.”
Opioids, a narcotic for pain, and benzodiazepines, a sedative for sleep disorders or anxiety, together create an “increased risk of slower breathing that can make someone more at risk for overdose deaths,” according to Dr. Alexander-Scott.
Thus far, the proposal has been backed by 17 states and 13 cities.
Accidental drug overdoses have claimed 241 lives in 2014, according to the health department.
The four initiatives by Raimondo focus on prevention, treatment, recovery and reversal.