A press release from the American Medical Association on May 31, 2018 highlights that a new report by the organization shows a significant decrease in the number of opioid prescriptions written between 2013 and 2017. At the same time, significant increases in the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), training in pain management and substance uses disorders, and access to naloxone (Narcan, Evzio) occurred.
Click here to access the press release:
Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, Chair AMA Opioid Task Force commented, “While this progress report shows physician leadership and action to help reverse the epidemic, such progress is tempered by the fact that every day, more than 115 people in the United States die from an opioid-related overdose. What is needed now is a concerted effort to greatly expand access to high quality care for pain and for substance use disorders. Unless and until we do that, this epidemic will not end.”
Summary points from the report:
- Opioid prescribing continues to decrease: Physicians have reduced the number of opioid prescriptions nationwide by more than 55 million between 2013 and 2017, a 22% overall decrease. Every state has observed a decrease in opioid prescriptions written.
- State Prescription Drug Monitoring Program databases increasingly used: Between 2014 and 2017, total physicians registered in PDMPs increased from 472,000 to over 1.5 million. Over 241,000 registered between 2016 to 2017 alone. A 121 percent increase in PDMP access and use was seen between 2016 and 2017.
- More educated health care professionals. In 2016 and 2017, the AMA opioid microsite, end-opioid-epidemic.org, was accessed over 19,000 times for education and training resources related to opioid prescribing, pain management, and screening for substance use disorders.
- Naloxone prescribing increases. Between 2016 and 2017, Naloxone prescriptions more than doubled from approximately 3,500 to 8,000 dispensed weekly. As of April, 2018 that number is now 11,600 naloxone weekly prescriptions.
- MAT prescribers increasing. As of May, 2018, more than 50,000 SAMHSA certified-physicians were available to provide buprenorphine in office for the treatment of opioid use disorders across all 50 states. This is a significant increase of over 42 percent in the past year.
Click here to access the report:
The AMA urges policymakers and insurers to remove key barriers to care for pain and substance use disorders, specifically:
- Remove requirements for prior authorizations and other administrative barriers for obtaining medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders.
- Enforce the parity laws for mental health and substance use disorders per the MHPAEA (Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act) passed in 2008.
- Ensure access to non-opioid pain management alternatives that are affordable and covered.
- End the stigma. Continue to emphasize equivalence between with pain or substance use disorders and any other chronic medical condition.