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Prescriptions for opioids stabilizing after fivefold increase in 10-year span
Date:3/10/2014

March 10, 2014 -- Death rates from opioids have been soaring in the U.S. since the 1990s. To support the appropriate use of these controlled substances and inform public health interventions to prevent drug abuse, most states have implemented a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). In a latest study, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health evaluated the impact of these state-wide programs and found that after tripling until 2007, annual rates of prescriptions for opioid analgesics have stabilized although the effects of PDMPs on opioid dispensing vary markedly by state. Findings are published in the March/April issue of Public Health Reports.

The researchers used quarterly data on prescription opioids from the US Drug Enforcement Administration's Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System for the years 1999-2008 to analyze the impact of the program nationally and at the state level. Data were then converted to morphine milligram equivalents or MMEs for each state and the District of Columbia. Results were based on data for the seven most commonly distributed opioid analgesics: fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, methadone, morphine, and oxycodone.

From 1991 to 2010 the annual number of prescriptions for opioid analgesics in the U.S. almost tripled, from about 76 million to almost 210 million, and the annual MMEs per capita increased fivefold from 163 to 827 for the years 1999 to 2008. Until 2007, the annual number of MMEs dispensed per capita increased progressively before stabilizing, and through 2008, state PDMPs had no discernible impact on the overall MMEs dispensed per capita. However, when the researchers examined data for individual states, they found that nine states recorded significantly fewer MMEs dispensed after implementing their PDMPs, 14 states reported no significant change, and eight states experienced significant increases in the MMEs dispensed. Colorado had
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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