US sees largest drop in opioid prescriptions in 25 years

U.S. prescription opioid dosage volume decreased 12 percent in 2017, representing the largest drop in more than 25 years, according to a report from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science.

For the report, entitled "Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S.: A Review of 2017 and Outlook to 2022," researchers examined data on net medication spending for 2017, along with out-of-pocket patient costs and the overall volumes of medications used in the U.S.

Here are four report findings.

1. Prescription opioid volume increased annually since 1992, before peaking in 2011.

2. From 2012 to 2016, opioid volume decreased by about 4 percent each year due to stricter regulations and prescribing guidelines.

3. Over the past five years, opioid volumes dropped annually in all 50 states.

4. Dispensed opioid prescriptions also decreased 10.2 percent in 2017.

"Our research and analytics revealed that 2017 saw new therapy starts for prescription opioids in pain management decline nearly 8 percent, with a near doubling of medication-assisted therapies for opioid use dependence to 82,000 prescriptions per month," said Murray Aitken, IQVIA senior vice president and executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. "This suggests that healthcare professionals are prescribing opioids less often for pain treatment, but they are actively prescribing MATs to address opioid addiction."

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