Opioid prescribing rates dropping, but still higher than 1999 levels

  • Guy GP & al.
  • JAMA Intern Med
  • 11 Feb 2019

  • curated by Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Although overall opioid prescribing rates decreased an average of 10% annually between 2015 and 2017, with reductions in 74.7% of US counties, the morphine milligram equivalent (MME) per capita in 2017 was 3 times higher than the amount prescribed in 1999.

Why this matters

  • County-level data included in the study could aid with the development and implementation of local prevention efforts.

Study design

  • Study used data from IQVIA’s Xponent database, containing prescriptions dispensed from nearly 50,400 retail pharmacies, which represents 90% of prescriptions in the United States.
  • Opioid prescribing for 2015 and 2017 at the national and county levels were evaluated.
  • Funding: None disclosed.

Key results

  • From 2015 to 2017:
    • the amount of opioids prescribed decreased 20.1%,
    • opioid prescribing rates decreased 16.9%,
    • high-dose prescribing rates decreased 25.3%, and
    • the average daily MME/prescription decreased 6.0%.
  • Opioid prescription decreased in 74.7% of counties.
  • However, in 2017, opioids continued to be prescribed at 512.6 MME/capita, nearly triple the amount prescribed in 1999.

Limitations

  • Appropriateness of opioid prescriptions could not be determined.
  • Lack of data on prescriptions dispensed outside of retail pharmacies.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD

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