Prescription Limits May Increase Opioid Exposure

Washington Free Beacon | 6/26/2019 | Charles Fain Lehman
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BY: Charles Fain Lehman

Limiting the length of opioid prescriptions may end up increasing the number of new users, according to newly published research.

Paper - Monday - Policy - Abuse - People

A paper released Monday found that a popular policy designed to combat opioid abuse may unintentionally expose more people to the highly addictive drugs. The paper is the work of Daniel W. Sacks, Alex Hollingsworth, Thuy D. Nguyen, and Kosali I. Simon, all researchers at the University of Indiana. They use a novel set of data from a "large, national insurer, with both employer-sponsored plans and Affordable Care Act Exchange plans" to look at how two policies — initial prescription limits and must-access prescription drug monitoring programs — affect "opioid-naïve" individuals’ exposure to prescription painkillers.

Drug policy focuses on three groups: people who currently use drugs, people who used to use drugs, and people who do not yet use drugs. Policymakers, however, have yet to identify any solution that benefits all three groups. For example, supply-side interventions like banning certain substances will have a different impact on someone who is already heavily dependent — and thus has a fairly inelastic demand for their drug of choice — compared to someone who has never used the banned drug. Sacks and his colleagues looked specifically at prescription opioids, which are widely used and potentially lethal, to see which policies help prevent non-users from being exposed to, or becoming dependent upon, drugs.

Deaths - Prescription - Opioids - OxyContin - Decades

Deaths involving prescription opioids like OxyContin have risen steadily over the past two decades, hitting roughly 17,000 in 2017. In response to this increase, many states implemented stringent regulations governing the prescription of these pills. One popular regulation is an initial prescription limit (IPL), which sets a maximum length for first-time users, usually around seven days. Another is the prescription drug-monitoring program (PDMP), a centralized database of opioid prescriptions that...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Washington Free Beacon
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