Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio
The number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers filled in the United States fell dramatically last year, showing their biggest drop in 25 years and continuing a decline amid increasing legal restrictions and public awareness of the dangers of addiction, new data show (Source: “New Data: Americans Filling Far Fewer Opioid Prescriptions,” Associated Press via Akron Beacon Journal, April 19, 2018).
Health data firm IQVIA’s Institute for Human Data Science released a report on April 19, showing an 8.9% average drop nationwide in the number of prescriptions for opioids filled by retail and mail-order pharmacies. All 50 states and the District of Columbia had declines of more than 5%. Declines topped 10% in 18 states, including all of New England and other states hit hard by the opioid overdose epidemic, such as Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
There was an even greater drop in total dosage of opioid prescriptions filled in 2017, down 12% from 2016. Reasons for that include more prescriptions being for a shorter duration, a 7.8% decline in new patients starting on opioid prescriptions, and far fewer high-dose prescriptions.