The US Opioid Crisis Continues to Grow
In our previous blog Opioid Epidemic, Part 1: The Prevalence of Opioid Use Disorder and Impact of Distressed Communities, we utilized Medicare Part D data (over 40 million enrolled beneficiaries) to highlight the growing prevalence rates across the board in the U.S. In short, the key findings were:
- Prevalence has doubled across the board
- OUD Prevalence Rates consistently on the rise, but significantly higher in some states
- Variation is stark even at the county level
- OUD increase fell year over year in 2017
So how are these patients obtaining such high volumes of opioids? Who is prescribing and where are patients filling these prescriptions? Read on to find out.
Note: An Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Indicator represents an individual patient and is classified as any diagnosis, procedure, hospitalization, emergency department visit, or utilization of medication-assisted therapy (MAT) found in claims sourced from ICD, MS DRG, or HCPCS Codes.
The Pharmacy’s Role in the Opioid Epidemic
Pharmacists may often be overlooked when you think of a care team, but in reality they have a unique opportunity to impact opioid misuse. Not all will solve a murder or discover a clinic illegally prescribing opioids, like Dan Schneider did in Netflix’s The Pharmacist, but Pharmacists have the opportunity to provide education to both patients and providers. They can help guide patients to correct treatment for pain/dependence, while assisting physicians with patient monitoring.
Even though pharmacists have such a unique opportunity, they are seldom the focus of claims data analysis. It’s possible that this is because prescription data is harder to come by than professional services claims. CareJourney’s access to Medicare Part D claims through the CMS Innovators License allows us to analyze prescription claims through the lens of either the prescribing physician or the pharmacy where the prescription was filled.