Number of opioid prescriptions remains unchanged, research finds

ScienceDaily | 8/1/2018 | Staff
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"Our data suggest not much has changed in prescription opioid use since about five years ago," says Molly Jeffery, Ph.D., lead author, who is the scientific director of the Mayo Clinic Division of Emergency Medicine Research.

A cross-specialty team of physicians and researchers from Mayo Clinic, Yale University, The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Dartmouth College collaborated to study 48 million U.S. patients who had insurance coverage between 2007 and 2016. Using deidentified insurance claims from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse, the team compared opioid prescriptions among commercially insured patients; Medicare Advantage recipients 65 and older; and Medicare Advantage beneficiaries younger than 65, who generally qualify because of long-term disability. They found that over the course of one year, 14 percent of commercially insured patients, 26 percent of Medicare Advantage patients 65 and older, and 52 percent of disabled Medicare Advantage patients received an opioid prescription.

Period - Medicare - Advantage - Recipients - Rates

Over the 10-year period, disabled Medicare Advantage recipients had the highest rates of use and proportion of long-term use, and the largest average daily dose. For that group, quarterly opioid use was lowest in 2007 at 26 percent, peaked in 2013 at 41 percent, and was 39 percent in 2016. The average daily dose increased from the equivalent of seven pills of 5-milligram oxycodone to a high of about nine pills in 2012. In 2016, it went back to roughly eight pills.

Among Medicare Advantage recipients 65 and older, quarterly opioid use was lowest at the start of the study period in 2007 (11 percent), increased to 15 percent in 2010, and decreased to 14 percent by the end of the 10-year period. The average daily dose, roughly three pills of 5-milligram oxycodone, remained relatively unchanged for this group.

Patients - Opioid - Use - Percent - Study

For commercial patients, quarterly opioid use remained relatively flat at 6-7 percent for the study period, and the average...
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