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Opioid Epidemic

  • New Data: Americans Filling Far Fewer Opioid Prescriptions  Associated Press by Linda A. Johnson — The number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers filled in the U.S. 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. Health data firm IQVIA's Institute for Human Data Science released a report Thursday showing an 8.9 percent 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 percent. Declines topped 10 percent in 18 states, including all of New England and other states hit hard by the opioid overdose epidemic, such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

  • Will New Payment Model for Treating Opioid Abuse Help Meet Demand for Treatment?  Modern Healthcare by Steven Ross Johnson —The American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine on Monday advocated for a new way to reimburse physicians who treat patients for opioid use disorder, hoping it will help meet the increasing demand for medication-assisted therapies. The new alternative payment model, called Patient-Centered Opioid Addiction Treatment, would give providers an initial, one-time payment to cover the costs associated with evaluating, diagnosing, and planning treatment for a patient, as well as a month of outpatient medication-assisted treatment. "Medication-assisted treatment is an evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorder, certainly there is no one-size-fit-all approach, but this is an important therapy," said Dr. Patricia Harris, chair of the AMA's Opioid Task Force. " Harris said current provider reimbursement and payment is a major barrier to patients accessing medication-assisted treatment.

  • Citing Opioid Crisis, Feds Seek Rule Change for Drugmakers  Associated Press by John Raby — Drugmakers would be required to identify a legitimate need for controlled substances to justify their production under a proposed rule change intended to rein in the diversion of drugs for illicit purposes, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced Tuesday. According to the DEA, current regulations were issued in 1971 but need to be updated to reflect the nation's opioid abuse crisis and changes in the manufacture of controlled substances. "It's a common sense idea: the more a drug is diverted, the more its production should be limited," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

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