Local Leaders Celebrate 26% Daily Opioid Prescription Reduction in Utah Since 2017

Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden unveils standing chandelier installation showcasing reduction in opioid prescriptions.

Local leaders gathered today at Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital to celebrate a huge win for Utah. Since 2017, there has been a 26% reduction in daily opioid prescriptions as a result of community and statewide efforts from healthcare systems and providers, the state of Utah, community coalitions and patients.

According to Utah’s Controlled Substance Database, Utah reduced daily prescriptions from 7,000 in 2017 to 5,200 in 2022.  

To signify this reduction, Intermountain Health, Bonneville Communities That Care, and statewide opioid prescription misuse prevention campaign Know Your Script unveiled today a 20-foot-high standing chandelier installation in McKay-Dee Hospital’s main lobby.

A previous version of the pill bottle chandelier hung in the hospital’s lobby back in 2017 and showcased the 7,000 daily opioid prescriptions at the time. However, today’s installation has received some upgrades — or, in this case, downgrades — to represent the 26% reduction in the past five years.

“At Intermountain Health we make it a priority to promote awareness, educate, and discuss chronic pain with our patients, to help them live a functional, high-quality life,” said Judy Williamson, president and CEO of Intermountain McKay-Dee Hospital. “This display represents all the hard work of our caregivers and patients and many lives saved.”

According to a recent Utah Health status update from the Utah Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), of the 541 drug overdose deaths in Utah in 2022, 74% involved an opioid. The data shows that opioid-involved fatal drug overdoses have remained relatively stable in recent years, but health officials hope to continue to see that number decrease as well.

"The reduction in daily opioid prescriptions in Utah is a testament to the inspiring work of the health care providers and community partners tackling the opioid crisis," said Dr. Michelle Hofmann, deputy director for DHHS. "While there is cause for celebration, there is still work to be done. Our department is committed to prevention efforts and will continue to work to reduce opioid prescription misuse in Utah."

For Ogden resident, Robert Hunter, opioid addiction is personal. It impacted the love of his life, his wife, Rula.

“Rula had been on several pain medications for a previous back injury, when in 1996 she was introduced to OxyContin by a doctor in 1996. She became immediately addicted and one of Utah's first victims to opioids,” said Hunter.

Rula received professional treatment and afterwards she and Robert became addiction recovery volunteers until her untimely death in January of this year.

“Vulnerability, openness and displays like this will help mitigate the stigma often attached to addiction,” said Hunter. “Together I hope we can all help heal one another.”

Since 2017, Intermountain Health has worked to change opioid prescribing quantities and potency with great outcomes – over 13 million fewer opioid tablets have been prescribed.

“These changes are huge wins for improving patient safety and keeping patients safe from potential addiction, misuse or even unintentional overdose,” said Kim Compagni, Intermountain Health assistant vice president for pain management services. “Intermountain Health is committed to continuing to reduce these risks, while working to find alternative solutions for pain control for our patients, including physical therapy, mindfulness training, acupuncture, massage therapy and medical nutrition counseling.”

Efforts across the state on a community level have also played a pivotal role in educating communities on alternative solutions and implementing research-based prevention strategies.  

“Localized efforts have played a crucial role in the reductions we’re celebrating today,” said South Ogden Mayor Russell Porter. “By addressing community-specific needs and leveraging resources available at the community level, we not only prevent opioid prescription misuse but also ensure the well-being of our residents, exemplifying the power of local coalitions in creating positive and enduring impact."

To learn more about the project and how to reduce opioid prescription misuse, visit knowyourscript.org/progress.


About Intermountain Health
Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs.

About Know Your Script
The Know Your Script campaign, a collaboration between public and private partners, was launched in 2008 and is dedicated to preventing prescription opioid misuse and abuse. By mobilizing media, community partnerships and local outreach, it seeks to educate Utahns about the risks associated with opioids and other effective pain management alternatives, as well as change behaviors regarding proper use, storage and disposal of prescription opioids. For more information and to find a local medication drop box near you, visit KnowYourScript.org.

About Bonneville Communities That Care
Bonneville Communities that Care (BCTC) is a coalition of community members from four cities in Utah — Uintah, Washington Terrace, South Ogden and Riverdale. The coalition brings community residents together with public and private systems to help kids find success through substance use prevention and evidence-based programs.  This community-based initiative provides parents and caregivers with information about the risks youth are facing in the area and the research-based parenting skills to prevent substance use. For more information, visit their website at https://www.bonnevillectc.org/.

Since 2017, there has been a 26% reduction in daily opioid prescriptions as a result of community and statewide efforts from healthcare systems and providers, the state of Utah, community coalitions and patients.