Opioid Prescription Patterns by Drug Type: The Pennsylvania Experience

AUTHORS

  1. BROCK BAKEWELL, MPH

  2. ASIF M. ILYAS, MD, MBA

ABSTRACT



Background



Opioid abuse persists as a significant public health issue in the United States; Many states are implementing education and monitoring programs in response to it. This study examined opioid prescribing patterns and trends after the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program in Pennsylvania.



Methods



After IRB approval, PDMP data was obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Data obtained included: drug name, days supplied, refill count, and partially filled prescriptions. The study timeline was from 2016 to 2020.



Results



In 2016 nearly 2 million opioid prescriptions were given to patients across the state. However, by end of the study period in 2020 there was a 38% decrease in the number of opioid prescriptions written. Specifically, there were over 700,000 fewer prescriptions in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the third quarter in 2016. The opioids that were most frequently prescribed were oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine. While fewer prescriptions were being prescribed overall, the breakdown of drug type being prescribed remained similar in 2020 compared to 2016. However, fentanyl and hydrocodone saw the largest decrease between 2016 and 2020.



Conclusion



Although the make-up of which opioids are being prescribed has remained consistent, a greater decrease in high MME opioid prescriptions was noted. Additional research is needed to determine the ongoing efficacy of the PDMP with control for opioid types, patient demographics, prescriber characteristics, and correlation to opioid-related deaths. In addition, greater patient, prescriber, and community programs should be considered to address the opioid epidemic comprehensively.



RESEARCH ABSTRACT PRESENTED at the 2021 ANNUAL MEETING of the:





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