In recent years, government agencies have grappled with the twin objectives of maintaining access to prescription opioids for those with a legitimate medical need while restricting inappropriate access.
In the past decade, acute and chronic pain patients have benefited from innovation in opioid medicines, including new drug approvals and improved and longer-acting and abuse-deterrent formulations. During this period, opioid prescriptions have increased by more than 25 percent.1 However, opioid-related deaths tripled between 2000 and 2015,2 and the annual economic burden of opioid abuse is a staggering $78.5 billion.3
Consequently, state and federal agencies have been increasing efforts to curb the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids. In 2016, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a new guideline recommending shorter durations for opioid prescriptions for chronic pain, and the FDA announced a “black box” warning for immediate-release opioids.
Notes: Hydrocodone/oxycodone claims were identified based on NDCs within the opioid class of drugs. GPI code 65xxx. Analysis excludes drug claims for beneficiaries younger than 18 years. Source: OptumHealth Reporting and Insights database
To put the CDC guideline in the context of existing treatment patterns, Analysis Group analyzed a large set of medical claims data for privately insured patients, with a focus on the past 10 years of oxycodone and hydrocodone prescriptions. Our analysis yielded three main conclusions:
Given recent regulatory changes, more research concerning the impact of these changes on abuse/overdose and adequacy of care for patients with legitimate medical need is important. ■
1Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Sept. 2015
2CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000-2014, January 1, 2016/64(50); 1378-82
3As of 2013. Curtis S. Florence, Chao Zhou, Feijun Luo, Likang Xu. “The Economic Burden of Prescription Opioid Overdose, Abuse, and Dependence in the United States,” 2013. Medical Care, 2016; 54 (10): 901 DOI: 097/MLR.0000000000000625
Crystal Pike, Vice President Kenneth Weinstein, Vice President
Pavel Darling, Manager
Paul E. Greenberg, Managing Principal
from “Viewing Recent Opioid Regulations In Context,” by Crystal Pike, Kenneth
Weinstein, Pavel Darling, and Paul E. Greenberg, published on Law360.com, April 1, 2016.
From Health Care Bulletin: Fall 2016/Winter 2017