The state also doesn't have a "Good Samaritan Law" to protect people from arrest and prosecution on drug possession charges when they call 911 to report a drug overdose.
On the plus side, West Virginia requires doctors to take part in a statewide prescription-drug monitoring program -- one of 16 states to do so. West Virginia is one of 22 states that require specialized training for doctors who prescribe narcotics.
West Virginia also received high marks for expanding its Medicaid program -- a move that will increase substance abuse treatment for low-income residents, the report said.
The report gave West Virginia additional points for having a law that requires people to show a photo ID before they can purchase controlled substances at pharmacies.
West Virginia -- with eight of the report's recommendations already adopted -- outscored 29 states. New Mexico and Vermont scored the highest -- 10 out of 10. South Dakota finished last with only two of 10 measures adopted.
Nationally, drug overdose rates have doubled in 29 states, tripled in 10 states, and quadrupled in four over the past decade, according to the report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
"Prescription drugs can be a miracle for many, but misuse can have dire consequences," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health. "There are many promising signs we can turn this around, but it requires urgent action."
The report also cites a West Virginia University School of Pharmacy study on drug overdoses. Researchers examined 700 drug-related deaths in West Virginia from 2005 to 2007. About 25 percent of those who died visited multiple doctors for prescriptions and 175 percent went to multiple pharmacies.
House Health Committee Chairman Don Perdue said he was pleased that Monday's report recognized state laws and policies intended to curb drug overdoses. But state lawmakers must take additional steps, he said.
"It may be we can't stop the flood of that river, but we can pull people out of that river, and we need to pull them out fast," said Perdue, D-Wayne. "Folks are drowning in a sea of substance abuse. Our concern is how do we save people's lives."Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.