AMA: Opioid prescriptions down since 2013


Opioid prescriptions dropped by 22% over the last 5 years, with decreases seen in all 50 states, according to a new report from the American Medical Association’s opioid task force.

“The largest decrease in opioid prescriptions in 25 years reflects the fact that physicians and other health care professionals are increasingly judicious when prescribing opioids,” Patrice A. Harris, MD, chair of the task force, said in the report.

Total prescriptions for opioids, 2013-2017
Providers dispensed almost 56 million fewer opioid prescriptions in 2017 than they did in 2013: The number of prescriptions fell from nearly 252 million in 2013 down to 196 million in 2017, the task force said.

Other signs of progress against the opioid epidemic include the increasing number of health care professionals registered for prescription drug monitoring programs: It has more than tripled, from 472,000 in 2014 to 1.55 million in 2017. Furthermore, the number of naloxone prescriptions in 2017 had more than doubled, from about 3,500 per week to 8,000, the task force reported.

“Unfortunately, deaths related to heroin and illicit fentanyl, and to prescription opioids, continue to rise. These statistics prove that decreasing prescriptions alone will not end the epidemic. We need well-designed initiatives that bring together public and private insurers, policymakers, public health infrastructure, and communities with the shared goal to improve access and coverage for comprehensive pain management and treatment for substance use disorders,” Dr. Harris said.

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