Opioid Prescribing in the United States Before and After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2016 Opioid Guideline

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Abstract

Background:

In response to adverse outcomes from prescription opioids, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain in March 2016.

Objective:

To test the hypothesis that the CDC guideline release corresponded to declines in specific opioid prescribing practices.

Design:

Interrupted time series analysis of monthly prescribing measures from the IQVIA transactional data warehouse and Real-World Data Longitudinal Prescriptions population-level estimates based on retail pharmacy data. Population size was determined by U.S. Census monthly estimates.

Setting:

United States, 2012 to 2017.

Patients:

Persons prescribed opioid analgesics.

Measurements:

Outcomes included opioid dosage, days supplied, overlapping benzodiazepine prescriptions, and the overall rate of prescribing.

Results:

The rate of high-dosage prescriptions (≥90 morphine equivalent milligrams per day) was 683 per 100 000 persons in January 2012 and declined by 3.56 (95% CI, −3.79 to −3.32) per month before March 2016 and by 8.00 (CI, −8.69 to −7.31) afterward. Likewise, the percentage of patients with overlapping opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions was 21.04% in January 2012 and declined by 0.02% (CI, −0.04% to −0.01%) per month before the CDC guideline release and by 0.08% (CI, −0.08% to −0.07%) per month afterward. The overall opioid prescribing rate was 6577 per 100 000 persons in January 2012 and declined by 23.48 (CI, −26.18 to −20.78) each month before the guideline release and by 56.74 (CI, −65.96 to −47.53) per month afterward.

Limitation:

No control population; inability to determine the appropriateness of opioid prescribing.

Conclusion:

Several opioid prescribing practices were decreasing before the CDC guideline, but the time of its release was associated with a greater decline. Guidelines may be effective in changing prescribing practices.

Primary Funding Source:

CDC.

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