Opioid prescribing drops 22.2% between 2013 and 2017 — 5 things to know about the epidemic

Practice Management

The American Medical Association released a new report on the state of the opioid epidemic. 

Here are five things to know:

1. Physicians are doing their part to reverse the epidemic, with the report revealing a drop in opioid prescribing. For the fifth consecutive year, opioid prescribing has decreased. The report found between 2013 and 2017, the number of opioid prescriptions shrunk by more than 55 million — and every state saw a decrease.

2. The report also found a boost in the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs. In 2017, healthcare providers accessed PDMPs 300.4 million times, a 121 percent increase from 2016.

3. The nation has also seen an increase in the number of physicians trained and certified in treating patients with an opioid use disorder. In 2017, about 550,000 healthcare providers enrolled in education for pain management, substance use disorders and other areas.

4. Naloxone access also skyrocketed, with a record 11,600 prescriptions dispensed weekly.

5. In the past 12 months, the number of physicians certified to administer buprenorphine in office for opioid use disorder treatment rose 42.4 percent to more than 50,000.

"This report underscores that while progress is being made in some areas, our patients need help to overcome barriers to multimodal, multidisciplinary pain care, including non-opioid pain care, as well as relief from harmful policies such as prior authorization and step therapy that delay and deny evidence-based care for opioid use disorder," Patrice A., MD, MA, chair AMA Opioid Task Force, said in the press release.

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