There are about 1.7 million opioid prescriptions written every year in New Mexico. The state still has a problem with opioid related deaths, but the numbers are slowly going down here even as they rise around the country.
Congress boosted the budget for the battle against the opioid epidemic this year, and a chunk of it—$100 million—is slated for treatment and prevention in rural communities. But something about how lawmakers chose to prioritize that money caught a New Mexico health official by surprise: the funding is focused on counties that are mostly white.
Attorneys general across the country are claiming that a 2016 law is preventing the Drug Enforcement Agency from stopping the overprescribing of opioid painkillers. This week New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas signed on to a letter with 44 other AG’s calling on Congress to repeal the “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act,” saying the law has handcuffed law enforcement from addressing the epidemic.