Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Prevention of Prescription Opioid Misuse in the US

JAMA Netw Open; 2019 Feb 1; Chen, et al

Interventions targeting prescription opioid misuse such as prescription monitoring programs may only have a modest effect on the number of opioid overdose deaths in the US, a new study found. Researchers projected the effects of interventions to lower prescription opioid misuse on opioid overall deaths from 2016 to 2025. The analysis was performed in 2018 by retrospectively calibrating the model from 2002 to 2015 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They found:

  • The annual number of opioid overdose deaths is projected to increase from 33,100 in 2015 to 81,700 in 2025. (147% increase).
  • From 2016 to 2025, 700,400 individuals in the US are projected to die from opioid overdose, with 80% of the deaths attributable to illicit opioids.
  • Across all interventions tested, further lowering the incidence of prescription opioid misuse from 2015 levels is projected to decrease deaths by only 3.0-5.3%.


Chen Q, Larochelle MR, Weaver DT, et al. Prevention of prescription opioid misuse and projected overdose deaths in the United States. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(2):e187621. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.7621.