- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington health officials say fewer state residents are dying from prescription pain medication overdoses.

The overdose rate dropped from 512 in 2008 to 388 in 2012. But at the same time, heroin deaths increased from 146 in 2008 to 231 in 2012.

The Department of Health credits a new statewide prescription tracking program for some improvement. The monitoring program lets doctors see what medications a patient is getting from various sources.

State officials want to expand access to an overdose antidote this next year to prevent more deaths. They also continue to work on doctor education for safe and effective use of pain medication, while preventing addiction.

Health officials believe some people who are addicted to prescription drugs are transferring to heroin because it’s cheaper and easier to get in some places.

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