Maryland fared well when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report last week on the nationwide decline in prescribing of opioid-based painkillers.
The report found that overall, opioid prescription rates peaked in 2010 before subsiding each year through 2015.
All but three Maryland counties showed declines in the rate of such prescriptions per capita. Only Allegany, Garrett and Talbot saw increases between 2010 and 2015; however, the data is complicated.
Opioid prescription rates remained above the national average in 17 of the state's 23 counties.
The CDC measured prescriptions using a formula that equalized the variety of opioid painkillers and their strengths and dosages into what it called a "morphine milligram equivalent," then measured that volume of opioids against county and city populations to establish the per-capita rate.
The table below depicts how Maryland counties and Baltimore City fared in descending order. It also shows what quartile the municipality falls in nationwide. Those in the third and fourth quartile are above the national average, while those in the first and second are below the national average.
Interestingly, Baltimore City, which is the state's hardest-hit municipality in the epidemic of overdoses from illegal opioids, fell just below the national average rate for prescription opioid painkillers.
Opioid painkiller prescription rates in Maryland
The rate of opioid prescriptions per capita as measured by "morphine milligram equivalent," a measure that accounts for the variety of opioid painkillers and their strengths and dosages.
Municipality, 2010, 2015, quartile
Kent County; 1,980; 1,565.8; 4th
Allegany County; 1,239.6; 1,400.9; 4th
Washington County; 1,302.4; 1,274.8; 4th
Calvert County; 1,403.8; 1,118.5; 4th
Cecil County; 2,550.9; 1,112.8; 4th
Talbot County; 903.7; 948.5; 3rd
Carroll County; 1,156.2; 913.7; 3rd
Harford County; 1,179.8; 912.5; 3rd
Wicomico County; 1,854.2; 899.7; 3rd
Baltimore County; 1,071.5; 882.9; 3rd
Charles County; 1,159.8; 866; 3rd
Garrett County; 688.2; 817; 3rd
St. Mary's County; 797.1; 784.7; 3rd
Frederick County; 944.7; 742.2; 3rd
Anne Arundel County; 881.1; 740.3; 3rd
Worcester County; 1,401.8; 712.1; 3rd
Queen Anne's County; 958.1; 690.1; 3rd
Dorchester County; 664.5; 545.8; 2nd
Somerset County; 821.8; 550; 2nd
Baltimore City; 554.3; 519; 2nd
Caroline County; 645.6; 495.3; 2nd
Montgomery County; 523; 355.7; 1st
Howard County; 384.7; 353.2; 1st
Prince George's County; 381.1; 283.2; 1st
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention