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'Know Your Dose' Effort Takes Aim At Prescription Drug Abuse

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Doctors and state officials Wednesday launched a new effort to fight the over-use of narcotic prescription drugs in Montana.

Doctors and state officials Wednesday launched a new effort to fight the over-use of narcotic prescription drugs in Montana. The main focus of the campaign is a website called "Know your dose MT" that contains tools to help doctors and patients decide when painkillers like hydrocodone are appropriate, and how to spot signs of addiction."If you are dealing with a person who is suffering from persistent pain and you identify that as a problem and you are going to be treating that, then yes, I would say we want every provider and every patient to use those tools," say Dr. Bill Gallea.

Gallea, an emergency room physician at Saint Peter’s Hospital in Helena, says prescriptions for addictive painkillers have increased four-fold in the last 25 years, and so have deaths from overdoses of those drugs.

But Gallea says the program is not intended to discourage doctors from giving their patients powerful medications if they’re truly needed.

"First year of medical school I was taught there was only two rules in medicine. If what you're doing is working, keep doing it. If what you’re doing is not working, stop doing it. I would hope that people would still follow those rules."

Gallea says Montana lawmakers decided against following the lead of some states, such as Washington, which have put strict limits on addictive prescription drugs. He says the state studied the issue, and found that abuse was already on the decline, so state regulation was not needed.