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From Health Affairs:

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Help Reduce Opioid-Related Death Rates 

Bethesda, MD--Over the past two decades, the number of opioid pain relievers sold in the United States has risen dramatically, and the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths has also increased (see the map below for 2013 data by states.). In response, forty-nine states (all but Missouri, excluding the District of Columbia) have created prescription drug monitoring programs, to detect high-risk prescribing and patient behaviors. A new study, released as a Web First by Health Affairs, retrospective review of these programs, found that their implementation was associated with the prevention of one opioid-related overdose death every two hours on average nationwide. Additionally, the authors noted that states whose programs had robust characteristics—including monitoring greater numbers of drugs with abuse potential and updating their data at least weekly—had greater reductions in deaths—1.55 fewer deaths per 100,000 population. In their study, the authors used an interrupted time-series design with data derived from multiple public sources; their analysis unit was the state-by-state pair. 

Implementation Of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Associated With
Reductions In Opioid-Related Death Rates

By Stephen W. Patrick, Carrie E. Fry, Timothy Jones, and Melinda B. Buntin

Patrick and Fry are affiliated with Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee; Jones is with the Tennessee Department of Health in Nashville, and Buntin is with
Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

This study, which will also appear in the July issue of Health Affairs, was funded by the
National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Preventions for States program has set the goal of making data from these programs more timely, but program funding has been inconsistent. "Our findings provide support for bolstering prescription drug monitoring programs and establishing a consistent and predictable funding source for them," the authors concluded. "As the use of these programs becomes more common and consistent, their effect on decreasing the prescription opioid epidemic is likely to grow." 

US Prescription opioid-related deaths per 100,000 population, 2013

©2016 Health Affairs

About Health Affairs

Health Affairs is the leading journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy. Published by Project HOPE, the peer-reviewed journal appears each month in print and online, with frequent Web First studies and health policy briefs published at The full text of each Health Affairs Web First paper is available free of charge to all website visitors for a one-week period following posting, it then switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. Web First papers are supported in part by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund. You can also find the journal on Facebook and Twitter. Read daily perspectives on Health Affairs Blog. Download our podcasts, including monthly Narrative Matters essays, on iTunes. Tap into Health Affairs content with the iPad app.

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