Opioid prescriptions declined in Pennsylvania by 14 percent from 2016 to 2017, more than the national average, according to a report issued by the Ameican Medial Association.
There were about 9.5 million opioid prescriptions written in Pennsylvania in 2016, according to the report. In 2017, there were about 8.2 million.
The drop may be linked to Pennsylvania launching its prescription drug monitoring program in that time.
“I think that’s probably the biggest single agent (behind the opioid prescription decline),” John Gallagher, chair of the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Opioid Task Force has said.
The program collects information on patients’ prescription histories and the information is placed into a searchable database. Doctors can use that database to prevent patients from secretly collecting prescriptions from multiple sources.
Use of the Pennsylvania drug monitoring program grew in 2017, according to the Pennsylvania Medical Society, with 12.7 million searches compared to 2.3 million the year before. Almost 30,000 medical professionals registered for the program from 2016 to 2017, growing Pennsylvania’s registry from 65,830 to 93,661 users.
The national average showed prescriptions decline by 9 percent between 2016 and 2017, the American Medical Association report states.
Other promising trends in the fight against the opioid epidemic, include:
Like much of the country, the rate of fatal drug overdoses continued to rise in the Lehigh Valley despite the downturn in prescriptions. There were more than 300 in Lehigh and Northampton counties last year. Many were caused by fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
Some health insurance companies require customers get their approval before covering medication assisted treatment, or require patients to try out different treatment methods before starting medication to manage their substance use.