Access to the PPM Journal and newsletters is FREE for clinicians.

AMA Says Physicians are the Ones Making Progress in the Opioid Crisis

June 4, 2018
Association encourages policymakers and insurers to improve access to care

A PPM Brief

Released just as the US Department of Health and Human Services Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, including four members of the AAPM, meets for the first time, the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a new report documenting how physicians are leading the charge in advancing the national decrease in prescriptions of opioids. The report also notes significant increases in the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), the number of physicians gaining certification to treat opioid use disorder (OUD), and the amount of prescriptions issued to reverse overdose, such as naloxone.

Specifically, the report found that, in the United States:

  • Between 2013 and 2017, the number of opioid prescriptions decreased by more than 55 million (a 22.2% decrease nationally).
  • In 2017, healthcare professionals nationwide accessed state databases for PDMPs more than 300 million times (a 121% increase from 2016).
  • In 2017, nearly 550,000 physicians and other healthcare providers took continuing medical education classes and other education and training in pain management and substance use disorders.
  • Naloxone prescriptions more than doubled in 2017, from approximately 3,500 to 8,000 dispensed weekly. As of April 2018, 11,600 naloxone prescriptions were dispensed weekly, the highest rate on record.
  • As of May 2018, 50,000 physicians were certified to provide buprenorphine for the treatment of OUD (a 42.4% increase in the past year).

The report also outlined a few interesting state-specific stats, including:

  • California saw two consecutive years of decrease in prescription-related opioid deaths and surpassed the national average for prescription decreases between 2014 and 2017.
  • Virginia’s Medicaid 1115 waiver expanded access to a comprehensive continuum of addiction treatment services for Medicaid enrollees, increasing care for thousands.
  • In 2017, 2,000 Ohio healthcare providers completed the Smart Rx program, an online CME option launched by the Ohio State Medical Association.

AMA also outlined steps policymakers and insurers can take to further tear down access barriers to care for chronic pain and substance use disorders, including:

  • All public and private payers should ensure that their formularies include all FDA-approved forms of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and remove administrative barriers to treatment.
  • Policymakers and regulators should increase oversight and enforcement of parity laws for substance use disorders.
  • All public and private payers should ensure that patients have access to affordable, non-opioid pain care.

“We encourage policymakers to take a hard look at why patients continue to encounter barriers to accessing high quality care for pain and for substance use disorders,” said Patrice A. Harris, MD, chair of the AMA’s Opioid Task Force, in the association’s press release. “This report underscores that while progress is being made in some areas, our patients need help to overcome barriers to multimodal, multidisciplinary pain care, including non-opioid pain care, as well as relief from harmful policies such as prior authorization and step therapy that delay and deny evidence-based care for opioid use disorder.”

Last updated on: June 5, 2018
Continue Reading:
Four AAPM Board Members Appointed to New US HHS Task Force
close X